Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley has announced that the owner of a former paper mill site in Lawrence, Mass., has been prohibited by a court order from conducting what she terms illegal demolition and metal salvaging that releases asbestos at the property.
The Attorney General’s office filed a lawsuit in Superior Court against David Padellaro and his now defunct company, Merrimack Street Redevelopment Authority LLC, for alleged violations of the state’s asbestos and hazardous materials laws at the former Merrimack Paper facility.
The court order issued a temporary restraining order prohibiting Padellaro from conducting further work at the property, unless necessary for the authorized demolition of what it calls unsafe buildings that have been damaged by a series of fires. The city of Lawrence has issued demolition orders for several buildings at the site. “This site has put workers and the public at risk,” Coakley says.
“Mr. Padellaro has willfully ignored MassDEP’s enforcement actions and exposed workers and potentially others to a public safety hazard and an unnecessary environmental risk,” says Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) Commissioner Kenneth Kimmell.
The property was acquired by Padellaro in 2010 and contains what MassDEP calls several vacant and structurally unsound and asbestos-containing buildings that have been repeatedly subject to fire and vandalism, many of which are in danger of potential collapse. The site has also been subject to several releases of oil and hazardous materials, says MassDEP.
MassDEP maintains that despite the issuance of two administrative orders by the MassDEP and repeated warnings of the risks to his workers, Padellaro continued metal salvaging operations over the last several months without implementing legally required safety measures including:
- wetting building areas to prevent the release of asbestos;
- monitoring the air during such operations; and
- properly disposing of asbestos-containing waste material at the site.
According to the complaint, Padellaro also allowed the illegal storage of materials at the site, such as concrete, brick, metal and other debris, and has failed to give MassDEP required notice of his metal salvaging and demolition activities on numerous occasions over the past three years. He allegedly repeatedly failed to implement protective asbestos emission control measures, including sealing off work areas.
The court order halts all demolition and salvage work at the site, with the exception of a MassDEP-approved plan to finish demolition work at the fire-damaged buildings.