Property owners fined for asbestos violations

File Photo: Removing materials containing some asbestos
File Photo: Removing materials containing some asbestos

WILLIAMSBURG, Mass. – The Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) has assessed a $27,379 fine against Alan Bernhardt and Sallie Swartz for violations of state asbestos regulations, which were discovered during MassDEP’s inspection of a residential rental property located on Main Street in Williamsburg.

MassDEP conducted the inspection in December 2012, following a complaint from tenants there. MassDEP confirmed that Mr. Bernhardt and Ms. Swartz had retained an individual to remove asbestos pipe insulation without filing an asbestos notification and without instituting the proper asbestos handling and disposal procedures. Mr. Bernhardt then disposed of the material at the Williamsburg transfer station. The property owners subsequently cooperated with MassDEP and retained a Massachusetts-licensed asbestos contractor to properly clean up the site.

In an agreement with MassDEP, Mr. Bernhardt and Ms. Swartz will pay a penalty of $9,000.  MassDEP has agreed to suspend $18,379 of the original penalty provided that Mr. Bernhardt and Ms. Swartz comply with the terms of the order and remain in compliance with the state asbestos handling regulations for a one-year period.

“MassDEP’s asbestos regulations protect public health and the environment by establishing safe handling practices to prevent the release of asbestos fibers from asbestos-containing materials,” said Michael Gorski, director of MassDEP’s Western Regional Office in Springfield. “Property owners should be aware of these requirements for their own safety and that of their tenants.”

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. More information on asbestos, including health effects, can be obtained from MassDEP’s web site: http://www.mass.gov/dep/air/asbguid.htm

MassDEP is responsible for ensuring clean air and water, safe management and recycling of solid and hazardous wastes, timely cleanup of hazardous waste sites and spills and the preservation of wetlands and coastal resources.

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