Judge sentences contractors who left asbestos trail in public schools
A Massachusetts asbestos contractor will spend 30 days in jail after admitting he and his partner failed to take proper safety measures while removing the toxic material from schools, a public library and a shelter for abused women and their children.
David Harder pleaded guilty in Salem Superior Court to improperly removing and storing asbestos, including dumping trash bags full of the carcinogen in two lockers at a local self-storage facility, according to the Salem News.
Harder and his business partner, Julie Rosati, will also spend three years on probation. The pair owned AEI Environmental, a Lynnfield business that shares a name with a nationally known consulting firm that had no ties to the case.
Prosecutors say Harder and Rosati ran the business, which was never registered with the state, from their home. The company was awarded contracts to remove asbestos from two public schools and the library in Lynn, as well as a fire station and the shelter. The company was also hired to perform abatement work at hotel that was being demolished and a country club in Marblehead, according to the newspaper.
Asbestos was widely used in building materials until the 1970s, when the Environmental Protection Agency began regulating its use. The federal Asbestos Hazard Emergency Response Act, or AHERA, requires public school districts to inspect for asbestos-containing building material and hire licensed abatement specialists to either encapsulate or remove the toxic materials. The EPA says there is no safe level of asbestos exposure, which causes mesothelioma, an incurable malignancy, and lung cancer.
Assistant Attorney General Andrew Rainer said Rosati and Harder never reported the projects to the state Department of Environmental Protection, as required by law. That prevented state environmental inspectors from reviewing the company's work for adherence to state and federal guidelines for asbestos removal.
Rainer said investigators later found fragments of asbestos left behind after removal projects at one of the schools and the library. Harder also admitted in court that he left trash bags full of asbestos in two lockers at a self-storage facility, rather than pay to have it disposed of properly.