Coakley reaches $100K settlement

Bryan Cohen Aug. 25, 2011, 3:00am

BOSTON (Legal Newsline) - Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley announced a $100,000 settlement on Wednesday with a developer over alleged violations of asbestos laws.

The alleged violations occurred when developer James L. Xarras renovated and converted the former Union Products site in Leominster, Mass., to a retail and commercial space in 2009-2010. Xarras allegedly failed to take the required precautions to prevent the release of asbestos fibers into the air when workers removed asbestos insulation from heating pipes, dislodged and removed pipes covered with asbestos, and removed other asbestos-containing material during renovation work in one building on the site.

"We will vigorously pursue those who endanger the health of workers and the public by failing to control the release of hazardous asbestos fibers," Coakley said. "This penalty should serve as a reminder to others that we take these violations very seriously."

The Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection shut down the renovation project upon discovering the violations. After a state-licensed asbestos contractor implemented emergency containment measures ordered by MassDEP, Xarras continued to perform additional renovation activity. During this process, Xarras allegedly cleaned up and improperly removed more asbestos from a building before the licensed contractor started the removal and disposal of all remaining asbestos from the site.

The licensed asbestos contractor completely decontaminated the site and properly disposed of asbestos waste from two buildings following required regulations after MassDEP discovered the additional violations.

Asbestos fiber can cause cancer and other serious respiratory diseases and problems when inhaled. State regulations are designed to help keep asbestos from becoming airborne when asbestos-containing materials are disturbed during construction, renovation or demolition work.

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