CONCORD, N.H. (Legal Newsline) - New Hampshire Attorney General Michael Delaney and Department of Environmental Services Commissioner Thomas Burack have announced a $110,000 settlement with a group of landowners to resolve allegations of unlawful asbestos removal.
M&E Jespersen Realty LLC, Holgate Limited Partnership, Harrington Irrevocable Trust and William Hopkins, Jr., were named as defendants in the settlement, which was announced Thursday. Michael J. Davis, an additional party, is subject to a final default judgment.
M&E Jespersen Realty bought a Dover property from the Holgate Limited Partnership that was run by Hopkins and the Harrington Irrevocable Trust.
Michael J. Davis, doing business as Do It All Davis, is the contractor who did the demolition work on the Dover property and was responsible for the disposal of the asbestos-containing materials.
Delaney's office alleged that the state received no prior notice before the former commercial building was destroyed. Notice is required in New Hampshire regardless of whether or not asbestos is thought to be present as such notice gives the state an opportunity to determine if asbestos or asbestos abatement testing should be done.
The defendants allegedly knew or should have known that the building contained significant quantities of asbestos because they previously obtained an environmental report on the property. The report said that the building contained approximately 10,000 square feet of asbestos, mostly in mastic floor tiles and roofing material.
Despite the report, the building was demolished without removing the asbestos, increasing the risk of the material becoming airborne and posing health threats to neighbors and site workers. The defendants allegedly failed to use appropriate asbestos removal methods involving measures such as establishing plastic containment barriers and wetting the asbestos before removing it.
The defendants also allegedly sent the materials to several disposal facilities, only one of which was qualified to accept the waste - the Turnkey Waste Management Facility in Rochester. Additionally, because the waste sent to Turnkey was allegedly improperly labeled or packaged, this created the possibility that Turnkey personnel or the public could be exposed to asbestos fibers.
Asbestos fibers have been connected to a significant increase in diseases such as mesothelioma and asbestosis.
Under the terms of the agreement, the defendants will be assessed a $110,000 penalty, $25,000 of which will be suspended provided there are no future asbestos violations or violations of the agreement for two years. The remaining $85,000 must be paid to the state within 60 days.
Delaney's office also obtained a default judgment and will seek a final judgment against Michael J. Davis, who has filed for bankruptcy. Delaney's office is seeking permission from the bankruptcy court to obtain a final judgment that includes major civil penalties against Davis.