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Case of alleged unsafe asbestos removal at high school settled

An asbestos abatement company has lost its license after being sued by the Attorney General's Office last year. The company was contracted to perform a $65 million renovation project at a Massachusetts high school and is accused of illegally conducting demolition and renovation. Unable to pay the civil penalties it incurred, the company forfeited its license to perform asbestos abatement work. Also named in the lawsuit for failure to adequately supervise the work was a construction company and two subcontractors that were hired to monitor the asbestos removal.

The asbestos abatement company allegedly failed to properly seal off rooms with asbestos-containing materials, failed to clean up debris, left asbestos in unsealed containers inside the school, performed work without proper supervision and failed to get approval for non-traditional asbestos containment techniques. The construction company and subcontractors allegedly failed to prevent these violations by not providing adequate supervision.

Several incidents were cited in the lawsuit, including leaving dust and asbestos-containing material in a special needs classroom and leaving asbestos-containing material in unsealed bags in a busy hallway. Staff was reportedly able to clean up the dust and debris prior to the arrival of the students, however contractors had not fully decontaminated the premises, causing faculty and staff to suffer potential asbestos exposure.

To settle the lawsuit, the construction company agreed to pay $195,000 and the other two companies agreed to pay approximately $100,000. The construction company claims it is not liable and that it only settled the matter to avoid asbestos litigation. It claimed that subcontractors were hired to ensure compliance with laws and regulations and to plan and monitor the removal. The attorney general stated that asbestos abatement companies should be meticulous in their compliance with environmental and safety regulations, especially in places where children are present.

Source: Lowell Sun, Greater Lowell Tech asbestos lawsuit settled, Robert Mills, December 4, 2017

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