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Property Owner in Worchester Fined over $50,000 for Asbestos Violations

According to a recent news article from the Worcester Patch, the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) has assessed a roughly $52,000 fine against a property owner in connection with alleged asbestos violations while he was renovating his three-decker apartment building in Worcester, Massachusetts.

rubble-1432323-mMassDEP officials said they were responding to complaints from an unknown source when they began their investigation into potential asbestos violations at the apartment building.  The complainant described seeing a pile of renovation waste outside of the home and believed that it contained asbestos fibers.

When investigators investigated further, they not only confirmed the presence of asbestos in the pile of waste outside the building, but found dry and crumbled asbestos pipe insulation on the floor in the basement without any required containment device or sheeting.  As our Boston asbestos attorneys can explain, when asbestos materials are in a state where they are dry and crumbling, the material is said to contain friable asbestos.

Friable asbestos is defined as asbestos material that is capable of being crushed with power of the human hand.  Friable asbestos is considered the most dangerous type of asbestos, because it will give off a lot of dust.  When the dust is inhaled the fibers can become trapped in the lungs, where they can metastasize into the deadly form of cancer known as malignant mesothelioma.

It typically takes between 20 and 50 years for the symptoms of malignant mesothelioma to become detectable to a patient.  These symptoms are shortness of breath, chest or abdominal pain, and coughing.  Once a patient gets these symptoms and goes to the doctor, if a diagnosed with malignant mesothelioma, the patient normally only has a short period of time left to live.  This is why asbestos companies were able to get away with poisoning so many people for so long.  While the general public had no idea asbestos was highly toxic, there is no question those in the asbestos industry were well aware of the dangers.

With respect to this three-decker in Worcester, MassDEP says that it was never told about the renovation project or asbestos abatement taking place as required by state and federal law.  MassDEP also say that the owner did not apply for proper permits, and did not use proper safety equipment, including respirators or ventilators.

In addition to the fine, the owner was also required to hire a licensed professional abatement contractor to complete the job.  This contractor used trained and licensed personnel wearing proper safety equipment to complete the work.  The area was properly protected and the asbestos material was wet to prevent dust from escaping into the air.  It was then placed in approved plastic containers and hauled away to an approved hazardous waste processing facility.

In many asbestos abatement jobsites, air filtration units must be set up on the property and running at time to collect and filter any asbestos fibers that do make it to the air in the room where work is being performed.

If you or a loved one is diagnosed with mesothelioma in Boston, call for a free and confidential appointment at 1-888-367-2900.

Additional Resources:

Worcester Three-Decker Owner Fined Nearly $52,000 for Asbestos Violations, May 11, 2016, Worcester Patch, By Charlene Arsenault

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