BOSTON (Legal Newsline) - Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley announced an order on Wednesday that will require four companies to pay the state up to $80,000 in civil penalties for allegedly removing and disposing of asbestos improperly.

JDL Incorporated of Dracut, Sun Building, Kearney Square Properties and TopNotch Homes allegedly engaged in the improper removal and disposal of asbestos-containing ceiling tiles and pipe insulation at the former Lowell Sun newspaper building in Kearny Square.

"Our office is committed to enforcing the state's environmental laws and pursuing those who put workers and the public at risk by failing to control the release of dangerous asbestos fibers," Coakley said. "Property managers, owners and contractors must take the proper precautions to ensure the containment of asbestos at all times."

The defendants allegedly violated the state's Clean Air Act by removing and disposing of asbestos-containing ceiling tiles and pipe insulation without using proper procedures for containing the materials to prevent the release of asbestos. The companies allegedly also failed to provide compulsory notifications to the Department of Environmental Protection.

The demolition work was performed to convert The Sun newspaper building to condominiums in February 2009. Due to the health risks connected with the release of asbestos fibers, the law calls for strict adherence to methodology for air pollution control when a company proposes to perform asbestos abatement work in Massachusetts.

MassDEP stopped the demolition operation after the agency learned of the violations and required the defendants to contain the asbestos immediately. The developer complied with the demand by MassDEP to hire a licensed abatement firm to fully secure and dispose of the material properly. Due to the prompt response by MassDEP, it is thought that the asbestos was contained properly and disposed of soon after the material was removed from the building.

The settlement requires that Sun Building and Kearney Square Properties, the owners of the property, and JDL Inc., their demolition contractor, to pay a civil penalty of $80,000 for the alleged violations. A total of $30,000 of the penalty may be forgiven if the defendants comply with the judgment in the matter.

The Sun newspaper moved from the location in 2007 and is neither involved in the alleged violations nor is it a party to the lawsuit.

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