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Maine says it will fine two companies for asbestos violations

Two companies that failed to protect demolition workers from asbestos exposure will be fined by the Maine Department of Environmental Protection.


The companies, Wilton Recycling LLC and Downeast Construction, were forced to halt demolition of several vacant manufacturing buildings in Wilton after the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration reported finding high levels of asbestos.


A state investigation revealed numerous violations of Maine laws, including failing to conduct an asbestos inspection before beginning the demolition work. The DEP also discovered that contaminated material was removed without appropriate measures to contain the asbestos. Inspectors found building material piled up near the site.


According to the Lewiston Sun Journal, workers were not provided with protective equipment and did not go into a decontamination facility before leaving the site, potentially exposing family members to asbestos fibers.


Air samples collected at the site by OSHA found airborne asbestos levels higher than permitted by law. The agency notified state officials on July 19 that 10 workers may have been exposed to the dangerous material, as well as 11 firefighters and at least one police officer who had responded to a small fire at the site.


Downeast Construction, which owned the salvage rights to the site, pulled its workers from the demolition site and hired a licensed asbestos contractor to remove the material, later discovered to be about 8,000 linear feet of pipe and pipe covering, 1,000 square feet of boiler coverings and 4,000 square feet of floor tile.


Samantha Depoy-Warren, spokeswoman for the DEP, told the Morning Sentinel that the cleanup will continue while state officials determine how much the two companies should pay.


"We do think that this case warrants a monetary penalty," Depoy-Warren said. The amount, she said will be "based on whether we have proof that they were willful violations, knowingly violating the laws, and that definitely affects the size of the fine.”