The state of Massachusetts sued four companies due to alleged mishandling of asbestos during a renovation project.
The lawsuit alleges the four entities violated the state’s Clean Air Act due to how asbestos was removed and stored from an old building.
The incident occurred in Springfield, Massachusetts, at the city’s former YMCA building. Springfield is around an hour north of Hartford, Connecticut, and a few hours west of Boston. The city’s 154,000 residents are subjected to a disproportionate amount of environmental health risks, as the city is an “environmental justice community.”
Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healy filed the lawsuit and announced the legal move a few weeks ago on the state’s official website. The companies noted in the lawsuit are:
- Ray Services Inc., an asbestos abatement company
- O’Reilly, Talbot, & Okun Associates, Inc., an environmental consulting company;
- Allegrone Construction Co., a general contractor
- Service Transport Group, a transportation company
Asbestos is a known carcinogen. It’s the only cause of mesothelioma, a rare cancer in the lining of the lungs or abdomen. Asbestos also causes lung cancer and lung scarring. Asbestos diseases kill tens of thousands of Americans every year.
Exposure to asbestos is largely untraced and undetected. Loose asbestos particles are small and weightless, which allows them to float in the air unnoticed. Breathing in or swallowing these particles leads to them sharply penetrating tissue linings in the body. This irritates cells and causes them to duplicate abnormally, which leads to cancer.
The health risks are why Healey filed the lawsuit, which claims the companies didn’t take proper procedures for asbestos abatement. According to the complaint, in March 2019, Ray Services employees “illegally removed dry, spray-on fire-proofing material containing asbestos.” They scraped the material off of ceiling ducts, pipes and beams in vacant classrooms in the YMCA building.
The lawsuit also alleges Ray Services workers wore personal protective equipment that didn’t cover their faces adequately.
Following the removal of the materials, Service Transport Group provided a “rusted-through waste storage container, located next to the building’s recreation area, to store the asbestos.” This is considered “improper storage practices” by the state of Massachusetts, and likely resulted in loose asbestos accumulating outside of the container and exposing the air.
The lawsuit alleges the other two companies “had an unlawful role in these asbestos abatement activities,” contributing to air pollution.
Asbestos abatement projects are a staple of renovation work on old buildings, including recreation venues or homes. If not handled properly, asbestos abatement can pollute the air with loose fibers and expose workers, parents and children to the carcinogen.
If you’ve seen improper asbestos abatement practices, please contact your local health department. Reporting these incidents will decrease asbestos exposure for current and future generations.
Sources & Author
- AG Healey Sues Four Companies for Illegal Asbestos Work at Former Springfield YMCA. State of Massachusetts. Retrieved from: https://www.mass.gov/news/ag-healey-sues-four-companies-for-illegal-asbestos-work-at-former-springfield-ymca. Accessed: 03/31/2021.
Sources & Author