Source: http://www.lowellsun.com, March 29, 2012
By Chris Camire
Four companies face fines as high as $80,000 for improperly disposing of asbestos from the former Sun newspaper building in downtown Lowell.
The civil penalties were announced by Attorney General Martha Coakley yesterday.
According to the complaint filed yesterday in Suffolk Superior Court, JDL Inc. of Dracut, and Sun Building, Kearney Square Properties and TopNotch Homes, all limited-liability companies from Tewksbury, violated the state’s Clean Air Act by removing and disposing of asbestos-containing pipe insulation and ceiling tiles without using proper containment procedures to prevent the release of asbestos.
The companies also allegedly failed to provide required notifications to the state Department of Environmental Protection.
“Our office is committed to enforcing the state’s environmental laws and pursuing those who put workers and the public at risk by failing to control the release of dangerous asbestos fibers,” Coakley said in a statement. “Property managers, owners and contractors must take the proper precautions to ensure the containment of asbestos at all times.”
The demolition work was performed as part of the conversion of The Sun building to condominiums in February 2009. Because of the health risks associated with the release of asbestos fibers, the law requires strict adherence to air-pollution control methods when someone proposes to perform asbestos-abatement work.
The settlement, also filed and approved by the court yesterday, requires current owners of the property, Sun Building and Kearney Square Properties, and their demolition contractor, JDL Inc., to pay a civil penalty of $80,000 for the alleged violations, $30,000 of which may be forgiven if defendants comply with the judgment in the case.
The Sun moved from the 15 Kearney Square location to 491 Dutton St. in March 2007. It is not involved in the alleged violations and not a party to the lawsuit, according to Coakley’s office.
The DEP shut down the demolition operation when the agency learned of the violations and required that the defendants immediately contain the asbestos.
The developer complied with MassDEP’s demand that it hire a licensed abatement firm to fully secure and properly dispose of the material. As a result of the prompt response by MassDEP, it is believed that the asbestos was properly contained and disposed of soon after the material was removed from the building.
The building was previously owned by developer John DeAngelis, but he said yesterday that he sold the building to TopNotch Homes before the demolition work began.
A representative from TopNotch Homes could not be reached for comment.