A Superior Court judge in Massachusetts recently slapped a demolition firm with a $100,000 penalty for failure to properly remove and dispose of asbestos waste during numerous projects.
Our Boston mesothelioma lawyers never cease to be amazed by these businesses that continue to take chances with this deadly substance, despite their awareness of the risk it poses to their employees, the public and the environment.
Asbestos is a naturally-occurring fiber that was used extensively throughout the 20th century for everything from auto parts to ceiling tiles. But it was known throughout this time to be a carcinogen when the fibers were inhaled. A person will show no symptoms for decades, and then be diagnosed with mesothelioma sometimes 40 or 50 years after exposure. Upon diagnosis, the disease progresses rapidly and is fatal. There is no known cure.
Industrial workers and military veterans especially are at-risk today, having repeatedly come in contact with the fibers years ago on the job, exposed by companies and manufacturers that knew this material to be dangerous.
And now today, even despite laws that are very strict with regard to how asbestos must be handled and disposed of during a demolition or renovation, companies continue to blatantly proceed without regard for the health or safety of those in the vicinity.
Because it’s expensive to do it right.
What they may not realize is that, years down the road, the cost of doing it wrong is even more expensive, particularly if those who are exposed later become sick and pursue legal action.
In this case, a civil complaint was filed against the company by the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office. It was alleged that the firm violated the state’s Solid Waste Management Act and Clean Air Act by improperly removing and disposing of asbestos material without notifying the Department of Environmental Protection, as the law requires. The company reportedly did this on multiple occasions.
The attorney general’s office also alleges that while the company was transporting the asbestos from the demolition site to the dump site, it didn’t properly secure the material in the vehicles, creating a risk that the deadly fibers would become airborne. Plus, the site where the company took the material to be dumped lacked a permit to accept asbestos-containing waste.
These acts reportedly took place at the old Hook Lobster building in Boston, as well as in Swampscott, Malden and Saugus. The former structure had been a landmark on the waterfront, but was burned to the ground in a fire.
The company maintains, despite the penalty, that it did not break the law. The judge ruled that the firm will have to fork over $50,000 of that penalty during the next handful of years. When that is paid, the rest of the fine will be suspended for five years. If, during that time, it avoids any further violations and complies with a consent judgment, it won’t have to pay the other $50,000.
If you or a loved one is diagnosed with mesothelioma in New England, call for a free and confidential appointment at 1-888-367-2900.
Firm hit with penalty for asbestos removal, Nov. 30, 2012, By Julie Managanis, The Salem News
More Blog Entries:
Five-Year Mesothelioma Study to Begin With Federal Grant, Nov. 30, 2012, Boston Mesothelioma Lawyers’ Blog