BOSTON — The Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) has assessed UMass Memorial Realty, Inc. of Worcester a $45,412.50 penalty for violations of asbestos regulations that occurred at the former Worcester City Hospital at 26 Queen Street.
In November 2013, MassDEP inspectors observed that asbestos-containing floor tiles had been improperly removed from the cafeteria and disposed of in an open-topped, roll-off container at the site. MassDEP was not notified prior to commencement of the asbestos removal work as required by the regulations. MassDEP required UMass Memorial Realty to retain a Massachusetts Department of Labor Standards-licensed asbestos contractor to cleanup and decontaminate the cafeteria, the roll-off and all affected parts of the facility.
MassDEP regulations require asbestos-containing materials to be removed wet, and to be sealed while wet into leak-tight containers with appropriate warning labels. Areas where asbestos removal will occur must be sealed off and air filtration equipment must be operated during the abatement work. These requirements are designed to prevent a release of asbestos fibers to the environment, to protect building occupants and the general public from exposure to asbestos fibers, and to preclude other parts of the building from becoming contaminated. Notification is required 10 working days prior to commencing any asbestos removal work so that MassDEP is aware of the removal work and has the opportunity to conduct inspections to ensure compliance with the regulations.
UMass Memorial Realty must pay $15,000 of the penalty, with the remainder suspended for a year as long as they remain in compliance with the regulations.
“Prior to commencing any demolition or renovation activity, property owners must identify asbestos-containing materials so they can be properly removed and handled in accordance with the regulations. Asbestos is a known carcinogen, and following required work practices is imperative to protect workers, as well as the general public,” said MaryJude Pigsley, director of MassDEP’s Central Regional Office in Worcester. “Failure to do so will result in penalties, as well as escalated cleanup, decontamination and monitoring costs.”
Property owners or contractors with questions about asbestos-containing materials; notification requirements; proper removal, handling, packaging, storage and disposal procedures; or the asbestos regulations are encouraged to contact the appropriate MassDEP Regional Office for assistance.
MassDEP is responsible for ensuring clean air and water, safe management and disposal of solid and hazardous wastes, timely cleanup of hazardous waste sites and spills, and the preservation of wetlands and coastal resources.