Wis. AG wins cases against contractors

Bryan Cohen Sep. 23, 2011, 10:38am

Van Hollen

MADISON, Wis. (Legal Newsline) - Wisconsin Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen announced judgments against contractors in Janesville and Eagle this week for alleged environmental violations.

Rock County Circuit Court Judge Michael R. Fitzpatrick ordered a judgment against J.P. Cullen & Sons Inc. of Janesville, requiring the company to pay $25,000 in mandatory court costs, forfeitures and surcharges to the county's clerk of court for a series of alleged asbestos violations.

In addition, Eagle Spring Environmental Ltd. and contractor Lee Cresca have been ordered to pay $7,500 in assessments, forfeitures, costs and fees for allegedly filling wetlands illegally and removing material from grading on the banks of a pond without a permit from the Department of Natural Resources.

J.P. Cullen bid on and won a general contract by the city of Janesville to renovate the interior of its public building. The city identified in its plans and specifications the presence of asbestos in pipe elbows and mastic but not in ceiling materials. J.P. Cullen allegedly did not inspect the ceiling for asbestos.

During the 2005 renovation, J.P. Cullen employees demolished a plaster ceiling on the first floor of the municipal building, which was later found to contain asbestos. The complaint alleges the demolition of these ceilings violated state law because it was not thoroughly inspected prior to demolition and because the company failed to notify the Department of Natural Resources at least 10 days prior to commencing its renovation activity. In addition, the company allegedly did not follow various required asbestos handling procedures and supervision requirements. When the asbestos debris was discovered, renovation stopped and the site was properly abated.

According to the other complaint, Cresca and Eagle Spring Environmental began work on a New Berlin construction project to deepen an artificial navigable pond that is connected to a navigable tributary of Poplar Creek by grading and dredging the pond's banks and outlet. The company began the work as a contractor retained by the property owner and allegedly removed material from the pond, discharged sediment into nearby wetlands and disturbed .83 acres of land on the banks of the pond and its outlet stream without first obtaining a water quality certification or permit for the work.

"Wisconsin law requires that contractors obtain and follow permits designed to prevent pollution and to protect public rights in the state's wetlands and navigable waters," Van Hollen said. "The Wisconsin Department of Justice will continue to work with the DNR to ensure that Wisconsin's water resources are safeguarded through compliance with the law."

This is the state's sixth prosecution against Cresca and/or Eagle Spring Environmental since 2005 pertaining to illegal waterway and wetland disturbance activities. In addition to paying a $7,500 judgment, Cresca and Eagle Spring Environmental are also required to pay $38,426.22 in outstanding judgments in the other five cases.

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