BOSTON — Seven parties who worked on a sewer pipe replacement project in Framingham have agreed to pay $385,000 in penalties to settle allegations that they allowed asbestos-containing soil and waste from the project to be illegally disposed behind a Milford home, Attorney General Maura Healey announced today. The parties include five companies working on the Framingham sewer pipe project, the Town of Framingham, and the owner of the Milford disposal site.
According to the complaint, entered along with the consent judgment in Suffolk Superior Court, the contractors on the sewer pipe replacement project allegedly removed asbestos-containing pipe at the Framingham work site illegally and failed to properly inspect, secure and dispose of asbestos-containing waste material and other solid waste at the work site, putting the public at risk of exposure to asbestos. The complaint also alleges that the parties failed to adequately monitor the work site in order to prevent the violations.
“Asbestos can pose serious health risks if it is not handled and disposed of properly,” said AG Healey. “We expect those trusted with the removal and disposal of this hazardous substance to take the proper precautions required by state laws in order to keep workers, residents and the public safe from the risks of asbestos exposure.”
“Asbestos is a known carcinogen and MassDEP regulations require specific handling, packaging, storage and disposal procedures to protect workers and the general public from exposure,” said Commissioner Martin Suuberg of the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection. “As this case demonstrates, failure to follow the prescribed work practices and to ensure that those work practices are followed will result in significant penalties, as well as escalated cleanup, decontamination and monitoring costs.”
The AG’s Office also alleges in its complaint that S.B. General Contracting, Inc., CJM Construction Co., Inc. of Milford, and William F. Rowe, III, the owner of the disposal site behind the Milford home, hid the asbestos-containing waste after MassDEP secured a search warrant to inspect the site.
Under the terms of the consent judgment, S.B. General Contracting, Inc. is prohibited from bidding on public projects for one year. It also requires the companies that allegedly transported and disposed of the waste illegally – CJM Construction Co., Inc., Ed Brown & Son, Inc. of Westwood, and R. Oliveira Trucking, Inc., of Dighton – to have their drivers take training courses to improve their awareness of the dangers of improperly handling asbestos. The Town of Framingham has worked cooperatively with the AG’s Office to identify and implement practices to ensure waste on similar municipal projects is properly handled and disposed in the future.
Asbestos is a mineral fiber that is 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, long-term non-cancer disease of the lungs 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 has made asbestos safety a priority, as part of the office’s new “Healthy Buildings, Healthy Air” Initiative that was announced earlier this month in an effort to better protect the health of children, families, and workers in Massachusetts from health risks posed by asbestos.
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 Louis Dundin, with the assistance of Chief Regional Counsel Anne Blackman, Asbestos Program Section Chief Gregory Levins and Solid Waste Program staffer Greg Root of MassDEP’s Central Regional Office in Worcester.