Massachusetts’ attorney general recently filed a lawsuit against four companies that the state’s chief prosecutor claims improperly removed, transported, and stored asbestos during an abatement project at city YMCA building, which hosts daycare programs and housing. The lawsuit is another in a string of priority enforcement efforts brought by the state’s attorney general to bring asbestos enforcement to bear and is an important part of the office’s effort to protect vulnerable communities in the state and hold wrongdoers accountable.
“We allege that the defendants’ reckless disregard of basic workplace procedures and failure to take proper precautions put the health and safety of workers, building occupants, and the surrounding community at risk,” said Attorney General Maura Healey. “Those who deal with asbestos have a duty to do so in a safe and legal way to protect workers and the public from the serious harms of asbestos exposure, and we will take action against those who don’t comply.”
According to the lawsuit, filed in Suffolk Superior Court, Ray Services Inc., an asbestos abatement company, O’Reilly, Talbot, & Okun Associates, Inc., an environmental consulting company, Allegrone Construction Co., a general contractor, and Service Transport Group, a transportation company, each violated the Massachusetts’ Clean Air Act and corresponding regulations. Defendant Ray Services Inc. allegedly removed dry, spray-on fire-proofing material containing asbestos by scraping the material off ceiling ducts, pipes, and beams in unoccupied classrooms in the building.
Furthermore, according to the complaint, defendant Service Transport Group provided to Ray Services improper receptacles on the YMCA grounds to store the abated asbestos. The other two defendants, Allegrone Construction and O’Reilly, Talbot, & Okum Associates were also cited in the lawsuit for their roles in the renovations which caused asbestos pollution. Asbestos is a known carcinogen and exposure to the substance is directly linked to developing mesothelioma, a rare and deadly form of cancer that commonly affects thin linings of tissue surrounding vital organs such as the lungs, heart, and abdominal cavity before spreading to other organs in the body.
“Asbestos is a known carcinogen and Ray Services’ failure to follow required work practices, including wetting friable spray-on fireproofing materials prior to removal, could have exposed employees and children at the property to hazardous levels of asbestos fibers,” said Michael Gorski, Director of the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection. “It is fortunate that MassDEP performed the unannounced compliance inspections of the abatement activities and ordered Ray Services to immediately correct the violations, assess the potential release of asbestos fibers to areas of the building outside the work area, and perform cleanup of these areas as necessary.”
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