Bryan Cohen Feb. 11, 2014, 3:23pm

BOSTON (Legal Newsline) - Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley announced a $125,000 settlement on Friday with an Essex-based demolition company to resolve allegations it mishandled asbestos while demolishing a Worcester building.

Coakley filed a complaint on Thursday against McConnell Enterprises Inc. alleging the company uncovered piping wrapped with asbestos insulation during a demolition project in 2011 and left it hanging three stories above the ground. Exposed asbestos insulation could have put workers and others in the area at risk of contact with the harmful fibers for an extended period of time.

"Our office takes the mishandling of asbestos very seriously because of the health effects," Coakley said. "Companies working with asbestos-containing materials must be held to the highest standards of care as ordered under our state air laws and regulations."

The lawsuit further alleges that when McConnell removed the pipes and other asbestos-containing materials, it failed to properly handle and store it, leaving it in unmarked plastic bags in a nearby building. McConnell also allegedly failed to follow proper notification procedures with the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection.

Under the terms of the settlement, McConnell must pay $82,500 in civil penalties to the state and an additional $42,500 in civil penalties if it fails to conform to waste regulations during the next 18 months.

Airborne asbestos taken into the lungs by breathing can cause serious diseases, including lung cancer, asbestosis and mesothelioma.

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