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Contractor to Pay for Asbestos Violations in Wilmington

November 23, 2018

In this undated photo, Wilmington resident David Norton says a home behind his property, at 13 Muse Ave., had asbestos and was being demolished improperly. The state Attorney General agreed and reached a settlement with Langone Development to pay for its cleanup. SUN FILE PHOTO Sun staff photos can be ordered by visiting our SmugMug site.

WILMINGTON -- When a home on Muse Avenue in Wilmington was demolished last August, David Norton was upset and concerned for his health. He recalled seeing a plume of dust rise in the air from the home with asbestos siding.

Norton was frustrated with the project and its potential long-term effects, but he now feels justice has been served.

Attorney General Maura Healey said Wednesday that a settlement of up to $125,000 would be paid in this case.

The consent judgment, entered last Friday in Suffolk Superior Court, settles a lawsuit filed by the AG’s Office that alleges Langone Development Group, Inc. (a contracting company), 3 Holly Street, LLC (the property owner), and Jonathan S. Langone (the president and manager of both companies), violated the state’s clean air law while haphazardly knocking down the single-family home.

The lawsuit alleges the defendants failed to remove exterior asbestos shingles from the house and did not take any necessary safety precautions.

“I think this is absolutely fair,” said Norton, who lives nearby the former demolition site. “I’m very happy that someone did something. Maybe he’ll think twice before he does it again.”

According to Wilmington’s health director, Shelly Newhouse, the town already issued Langone a fine of $4,200.

“I’m just disappointed in how the whole thing went down,” Newhouse said. “But, he’s getting punished for it and that’s what happens when you do something wrong.”

In a press release, Healey said construction and demolition work that involves asbestos should be completed in both a safe and legal manner in order to protect the public.

The press release from her office said that in this Wilmington case, the state’s clean air law and solid waste law were violated. The AG’s office alleges the defendants caused a visible dust cloud of asbestos in the air and that large pieces of construction debris were illegally dumped in a deep pit on the property. The release states the defendants reported the solid waste from the project would be disposed of at a permitted facility, which is required.

The consent judgment was entered in Suffolk Superior Court Friday.

“Massachusetts requires protective measures whenever asbestos removal, handling and disposal are involved in order to protect the public from health hazards associated with airborne asbestos fibers,” MassDEP Commissioner Martin Suuberg said in a press release. “Persons who seek to avoid costs by violating applicable laws and regulations will be subject to enforcement including appropriate penalties.”

The press release reads: “Under the terms of the settlement, the defendants will pay up to $125,000 in penalties, with $25,000 suspended for three years pending compliance with the terms of the agreement.”

Newhouse said she thinks this settlement will send the message to contractors that there will be stiff penalties for those who do not follow the rules.

Asbestos is a mineral fiber that has been used in a wide variety of building materials, from roofing and flooring, to siding and wallboard, to caulking and insulation. If asbestos is improperly handled or maintained, fibers can be released into the air and inhaled, potentially resulting in life-threatening illnesses, including asbestosis, lung cancer, and mesothelioma. Asbestosis is a serious, progressive, and long-term disease for which there is no known effective treatment. Mesothelioma is a rare form of cancer that is found in the thin membranes of the lung, chest, abdomen, and heart, that may not show up until many years after exposure, and that has no known cure, although treatment methods are available to address the effects of the disease.

Follow Kori Tuitt on Twitter @KoriTuitt.

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