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Press Release Wakefield Oil Tank Removal Company Settles Allegations of Hazardous Waste Violations and Illegal Asbestos Removal

For immediate release:
4/14/2021
  • Office of Attorney General Maura Healey
  • Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection

Media Contact for Wakefield Oil Tank Removal Company Settles Allegations of Hazardous Waste Violations and Illegal Asbestos Removal

Chloe Gotsis

BOSTON A Wakefield-based oil tank installation, maintenance, and removal company will pay up to $250,000 and will complete proper closure of an unpermitted well to resolve alleged hazardous waste and ground water discharge violations at its Wakefield headquarters and alleged illegal asbestos removal violations at an occupied building in Boston, Attorney General Maura Healey announced today.

“We depend on companies to honestly and accurately report on their handling of hazardous materials to protect the health and safety of workers, the public, and the environment,” said AG Healey. “This settlement requires this company to address any potential environmental contamination and ensures that it abides by our important environmental laws moving forward.”

The consent judgment, entered in Suffolk Superior Court, settles a lawsuit filed by the AG’s Office, which alleged that CommTank, Inc. violated the state’s hazardous waste management and clean water laws at its Wakefield headquarters. The AG’s complaint alleged that CommTank generated hazardous waste in excess of the volume permitted under its Very Small Quantity Generator status; failed to properly manage, store, and document waste oil and hazardous waste; and failed to properly train personnel in the management of hazardous waste. 

The AG’s Office also alleged that CommTank maintained an unpermitted well in an area of its Wakefield facility where it conducted vehicle maintenance and stored waste oil and hazardous waste, thereby potentially allowing motor vehicle waste fluids to drain into the well, which led to the surrounding environment.

The consent judgment also settles allegations that CommTank violated the state’s clean air law by conducting illegal asbestos removal work in a residential and commercial building on Newbury Street in Boston while removing large, industrial boiler units. According to the complaint, CommTank, which is not a licensed asbestos abatement contractor, did not comply with required asbestos abatement work practices, including failing to notify the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) about asbestos encasing the boilers, failing to use proper air filtration units, failing to contain the asbestos dust, and failing to wet the asbestos material during the removal. This illegal asbestos removal potentially exposed CommTank’s workers, people accessing the building, and passersby in a busy urban area to asbestos fibers.

  “Because of the risk to public health and the environment, hazardous waste and asbestos are closely regulated," said MassDEP Commissioner Martin Suuberg. “MassDEP will continue to conduct inspections and will enforce against violators that put the environment and the public at risk.”

 Under the settlement, CommTank is required to pay $250,000 in civil penalties, $50,000 of which will be suspended pending compliance with the terms of the consent judgment.  CommTank also must complete the closure process for an underground injection control well at its Wakefield facility under MassDEP’s regulations and oversight. CommTank is required to hire a Licensed Site Professional to manage the process, conduct necessary sampling and testing of soil for possible contamination, and cooperate with any required inspections by state or local authorities to secure closure of the underground injection control well. 

Asbestos is a mineral fiber that has been used in a wide variety of building materials, from roofing and flooring, to siding and wallboard, to caulking and insulation. If asbestos is improperly handled or maintained, fibers can be released into the air and inhaled, potentially resulting in life-threatening illnesses, including asbestosis, lung cancer, and mesothelioma. Asbestosis is a serious, progressive, and long-term disease for which there is no known effective treatment. Mesothelioma is a rare form of cancer that is found in the thin membranes of the lung, chest, abdomen, and heart, that may not show up until many years after exposure, and that has no known cure, although treatment methods are available to address the effects of the disease.

AG Healey’s Office has made asbestos safety a priority. In November 2019, AG Healey released a report, highlighting the work of her office’s “Healthy Buildings, Healthy Air Initiative.” Since September 2016, the AG’s Office, with the assistance of MassDEP, has successfully brought asbestos enforcement cases that together have resulted in nearly $4.5 million in civil penalties. 

For more information on asbestos and asbestos-related work, visit MassDEP’s website outlining asbestos construction and demolition notification requirements.

This case was handled by Assistant Attorney General Meghan Davoren of Attorney General Healey’s Environmental Protection Division, with assistance from Senior Regional Counsel Jeanne Argento, Environmental Analyst Matthew Barber, and Asbestos Program Section Chief and Bureau of Air and Waste Deputy Regional Director John MacAuley of MassDEP’s Northeast Regional Office in Wilmington.

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Media Contact for Wakefield Oil Tank Removal Company Settles Allegations of Hazardous Waste Violations and Illegal Asbestos Removal

Office of Attorney General Maura Healey 

Attorney General Maura Healey is the chief lawyer and law enforcement officer of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection 

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