Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley says her department has filed a complaint against McConnell Enterprises Inc., Essex, Mass., over alleged improper handling and disposal of asbestos during the demolition of a building in Worcester, Mass.
The AG’s office says McConnell, a state-licensed asbestos removal contractor, could pay up to $125,000 in civil penalties. The office claims the company uncovered piping wrapped with asbestos during a demolition project in 2011 and allegedly left it hanging three stories above the ground, putting workers and others in the area at risk of contact with harmful fibers for an extended period of time.
“Our office takes the mishandling of asbestos very seriously because of the health effects,” says Coakley. “Companies working with asbestos-containing materials must be held to the highest standards of care as ordered under our state air laws and regulations.”
According to the complaint, when McConnell removed the asbestos-covered pipes and other asbestos-containing materials from the building, the company failed to properly handle and store it, leaving it in unmarked black plastic bags in a nearby building where other businesses operate.
The complaint further alleges that McConnell also failed to follow proper notification procedures, preventing the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) from conducting appropriate oversight of the company’s asbestos removal activities.
In order to secure payment under its demolition contract with the City of Worcester, it is alleged that McConnell falsely certified that it had complied with the applicable laws and regulations, violating the Massachusetts False Claims Act. The complaint also alleges various violations of the Commonwealth’s air pollution prevention statute, its asbestos regulations, and its solid waste management statute and regulations.
Under the settlement, McConnell must pay $82,500 in civil penalties to the Commonwealth and another $42,500 in civil penalties if it fails to conform to waste regulations over the next 18 months.