February 18, 2019

Contractor fined for asbestos violations at Worcester project

WORCESTER — A demolition company has been fined up to $125,000 for mishandling asbestos during a renovation of the Crompton and Knowles building at 95 Grand St.

According to Attorney General Martha Coakley’s office, the contractor, McConnell Enterprises Inc., of Essex and Braintree, “uncovered piping wrapped with asbestos insulation during demolition in 2011 and allegedly left it hanging three stories above the ground, putting workers and others in the area at risk of contact with harmful fibers for an extended period of time.”

McConnell — a state-licensed asbestos removal contractor — “finally removed the asbestos-covered pipes and other asbestos-containing materials from the building on Grand Street, the company failed to properly handle and store it, leaving it in unmarked black plastic bags in a nearby building where people regularly come and go and other businesses operate.”

The complaint, filed Thursday in Suffolk Superior Court, McConnell “also failed to follow proper notification procedures, preventing the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) from conducting appropriate oversight of the company’s asbestos removal activities.”

In order to secure payment under its demolition contract with the city of Worcester, the complaint alleged that McConnell “falsely certified that it had complied with the applicable laws and regulations, violating the Massachusetts False Claims Act. The complaint also alleges various violations of the commonwealth’s air pollution prevention statute, its asbestos regulations, and its solid waste management statute and regulations.”

Under the settlement, McConnell must pay $82,500 in civil penalties to the state, and another $42,500 in civil penalties if it fails to conform to waste regulations over the next 18 months.

When reached at its Braintree headquarters Friday, a McConnell employee said the company would have no comment.

“Licensed asbestos contractors are fully aware of the removal, handling, packaging and storage requirements that must be followed when dealing with asbestos-containing materials and of the requirement to provide notification to MassDEP in advance of this work,” said DEP Commissioner Kenneth Kimmell in a press release. “Asbestos is a known carcinogen, and following the rules is imperative to protect workers as well as the general public and environment. Failure to do so will result in significant penalty exposure, as well as escalated cleanup, decontamination and monitoring costs.”

Aaron Nicodemus can be reached at anicodemus@telegram.com


Contractor fined for asbestos violations at Worcester project

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