The general contractor in charge of the demolition of the former South Shore YMCA building in downtown Quincy and an environmental consultant hired to monitor the demolition work will pay a total of $180,000 to settle allegations that they caused or allowed illegal asbestos work at the site, Attorney General Maura Healey announced.
The consent judgment settles in part a lawsuit filed by the AG’s Office on June 30 against Callahan Inc., a Bridgewater-based general contractor; Axiom Partners, a Wakefield-based environmental consultant; and J. Kerrissey Inc., a Plymouth demolition company. The lawsuit alleges that Callahan and Axiom violated the state’s clean air law and regulations by causing or allowing J. Kerrissey to demolish approximately 45,000 square feet of asbestos-containing ceiling plaster without sealing the work area, using proper protective equipment or using work practices required by law to minimize asbestos exposure.
The claims against J. Kerrissey for its role in the violations were not settled by the consent judgment and will proceed in Suffolk Superior Court.
“Asbestos can pose serious health risks to workers and the public when not handled properly in compliance with law,” Healey said in a statement. “Companies must ensure construction and demolition work involving asbestos is done safely and legally, and we will take action against those who endanger their workers and local residents.”
According to the lawsuit, the demolition work generated visible clouds of dust and piles of dusty asbestos-containing waste material, which workers then dropped out of a second-floor window into an unlined dumpster adjacent to the sidewalk. The site is located in the middle of downtown Quincy, a high-traffic environmental justice neighborhood, adjacent to the Quincy High School and the new South Shore YMCA.
The AG’s Office also alleges in the complaint that workers performed illegal asbestos abatement work on at least three subsequent occasions during the demolition, including after a Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) inspector noticed the violations, halted asbestos work, and ordered the workers out of the building. Following the violations, the site was cleaned up and the demolition work was completed safely under the supervision of MassDEP.
In a prepared statement, Callahan said it did not knowingly violate any environmental regulations during the project.
“The contractors used appropriate procedures based on the hazardous materials assessment report provided by the owner’s environmental consultant, Axiom Partners Inc. Callahan relied on the consultant’s report, which contained a significant error concerning the asbestos content of a portion of the building,” the company stated.