MassDEP Issues Large Fine for Improper Asbestos Removal at Worcester City Hospital

7/22/2015

The Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection ("MassDEP") has issued a $45,412 fine to UMass Memorial Realty Inc. ("UMass Memorial") for improperly removing asbestos-containing floor tiles, highlighting the potential for severe civil penalties for property owners and contractors if they do not comply with state asbestos regulations.

Mass DEP has enacted a regulatory framework, chiefly through Code of Massachusetts Regulations 310 CMR 7.15, that governs the renovation or destruction of residential, commercial, and institutional buildings and requires that all owners, operators, and contractors adhere to a series of asbestos-related requirements. Failure to comply with the regulations can result in fines and other penalties.

In 2013, UMass Memorial began a renovation and demolition project at the Worcester City Hospital, which had closed in 1991 and is located in Worcester, Massachusetts. MassDEP conducted an inspection of this jobsite and observed the improper removal and disposal of asbestos-containing floor tiles from the cafeteria in the building.

MassDEP requires that before any work begins, contractors inspect jobsites for asbestos-containing materials and determine whether asbestos will be disturbed by the proposed renovation or demolition activity. A consultant certified by the Massachusetts Department of Labor Standards ("DOL") must inspect the site and contractors must employ work practice standards in the disposal of any asbestos-containing materials, including that such materials be wetted and sealed in air-tight containers with specific labels and warnings and disposed of at an approved landfill. Areas where asbestos removal will occur must also be sealed off and air filtration equipment employed during abatement work.

UMass Memorial failed to comply with these requirements. It did not notify MassDEP about the removal of the asbestos-containing tiles before performing the work and improperly disposed of the tiles in an open-topped container onsite. MassDEP has ordered the company to pay $15,000 of the penalty, suspending the remainder for a year if it complies with the removal requirements.

To learn more about how state asbestos regulations can affect you or your business, please contact David M. Governo at dgoverno@governo.com or Colin N. Holmes at cholmes@governo.com.

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