LAWRENCE — A Watertown-based real estate developer and a Vermont-based contractor have agreed to pay up to $335,000 to settle allegations that their workers improperly handled solid waste and materials containing asbestos during the redevelopment of a former manufacturing site in Lawrence, Attorney General Maura Healey's office said this week.
According to allegations made by the attorney general's office, site developer and owner Washington Mills II LLP and general contractor PC Construction Company violated both the state Clean Air Act and Solid Waste Management Act. Healey's office said in a statement that the violations may have endangered the health of workers at the site where two former manufacturing buildings were being redeveloped into a residential and commercial complex. The consent judgments, entered Friday in Suffolk Superior Court, settle those allegations, Healey's office said.
In the complaint, Healey's office alleged that workers illegally stockpiled and reused excavated material containing asbestos in an open courtyard, which could present a danger to the public, Healey's office said.
“Asbestos can pose serious health risks to workers and residents if not handled properly by contractors,” Healey said in a statement. “My office has made enforcing our state’s asbestos safety laws a top priority – especially in environmental justice communities like Lawrence, where residents are more vulnerable to pollution and other environmental harms.”
Asbestos is a mineral fiber used in a variety of building materials from roofing to flooring. If improperly handled, fibers can be released into the air and inhaled, resulting in possibly life-threatening illnesses, including lung cancer, Healey's office noted.
According to the attorney general, the companies also allegedly carried out demolition and renovation work without notifying the state Department of Environmental Protection or surveying the basements for asbestos.
In addition to paying various monetary penalties to the state, supervisors working with PC Construction on Massachusetts projects must take asbestos training and submit other required surveys and documentation, Healey's office said.