Improper Asbestos Removal Leads to Lawsuit in Salem

Improper asbestos removal at a demolition site in Salem, Massachusetts led to a lawsuit filed against MRM Project Management, its principals, and a contractor. The lawsuit, filed by the Massachusetts Attorney General’s office, said the company is responsible for cutting corners with asbestos removal laws which led to contamination at the site.

2016 Demolition Sparks Allegations of Improper Asbestos Removal

The demolition of several buildings on an industrial property before August 2016 left asbestos contamination in debris piles and the air. Workers hauled off the contaminated debris from the site in cardboard barrels. 

Exposure to asbestos for long periods of time sometimes leads to serious health effects, such as mesothelioma, asbestosis, or lung cancer. It is not uncommon for industrial sites to contain the toxin throughout buildings and equipment. Industrial workers are among the most at risk for exposure in the occupational setting, especially after improper asbestos removal.

MRM purchased the 6.7-acre industrial site, formally Salem Oil and Grease, in 2006. In 2016, the company began demolition on the property in preparation for a planned 129-unit apartment complex. MRM, however, sold the property in 2018 to Rita and Louie Roberto of the 116 Bennington St. Realty Trust, according to public records.

Prior to August 2016, the company demolished several buildings on the property. The lawsuit claims two buildings at the site were not checked for asbestos and the company had no action plan for containing the asbestos even though they knew about its existence.

The lawsuit also explains that the owners failed to provide adequate surveys of the building for asbestos presence. In fact, the Office of the Attorney General believes no steps were taken to seal the contaminants off to prevent asbestos exposure.

Massachusetts Attorney General Takes Action

In a lawsuit announcement last week, Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey said, “These defendants recklessly cut corners while redeveloping this site, ignored our important air pollution and asbestos laws, and put the health and safety of their workers and the public at risk.”

The chief lawyer seeks to issue extensive fines to MRM of up to $50,000 per violation per day for the improper asbestos removal, which violated the Clean Air Act, the Oil and Hazardous Material Release Prevention and Response Act, the Solid Waste Disposal Act, and other accompanying regulations.

“We will hold accountable those who fail to take the necessary precautions to protect the public from this dangerous carcinogen,” Healey stated. 

Improper Asbestos Removal and Exposure Sites in Massachusetts

MRM is not the only party in Massachusetts guilty of improper asbestos removal. During the 1900s, Massachusetts relied on asbestos for building components such as paint, roofing, tile, insulation, and more.

Throughout the state, shipyards, power plants, hospitals, homes, and schools may still contain the toxin. The Boston Naval Shipyard, for example, used asbestos in specific components during ship construction. The shipyard operated until 1974, around the peak use of asbestos consumption in the United States. At one point, the shipyard employed and possibly exposed nearly 50,000 employees.

Over the last two decades, over 6,000 Massachusetts residents have passed away from an asbestos-related illness, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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