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The Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) has fined Central Mass Recycled Metals, LLC $36,775 for violating state asbestos and mercury management laws.
The metal recycling business’ facility in Millbury was inspected by the MassDEP’s asbestos program and Environmental Strike Force in August and October of 2013.
MassDEP is in charge of ensuring clean air and water, safe management and disposal of solid and hazardous wastes, timely clean up of sites and spills, and the preservation of wetlands and coastal resources. This regulation is vital when it comes to asbestos, as exposure to the toxin can lead to the deadly cancer mesothelioma.
Mesothelioma is a rare and aggressive cancer of the thin membrane in the body known as the mesothelium. There are three types of mesothelioma. Pleural mesothelioma forms in the lining of the lungs and is the most common form of mesothelioma. Peritoneal and pericardial mesothelioma are less common and form in the lining of the abdominal cavity and of the heart.
“During the August inspection, agency personnel observed dry, asbestos-containing insulation lying uncontained on the ground outdoors, on pieces of scrap metal and on pieces of dismantled boilers exposed to the ambient air at the site,” said a press release. “During the October inspection, agency personnel determined that the company was partially crushing vehicles without first removing mercury-added components, as required by law.”
Regulations call for any materials contaminated with asbestos to be removed wet and sealed (while still wet) in leak-tight containers with the correct warning labels. Anywhere that asbestos work might occur has to be sealed off and air filtration equipment used during the abatement process. This ensures asbestos fibers are not released into the environment so building occupants and the general public isn’t exposed to the hazardous material.
A Massachusetts Department of Labor Standards-licensed asbestos contractor was required to be hired “to properly move, package, and dispose of the asbestos-containing waste materials” and Central Mass Recycled Metals, LLC was ordered to no longer crush vehicles without previously disposing of the mercury-added parts.
“Preventing asbestos-containing materials from entering these facilities protects workers, customers, and the general public from exposure,” said Deputy Regional Director in MassDEP’s Central Regional Office John Kronopolus.
“Failure to remove mercury-added components from vehicles prior to crushing poses a serious threat to the environment and public health. As this penalty demonstrates, companies that fail to comply with these regulations face significant penalties, as well as escalated cleanup, decontamination, and monitoring costs.”
Just recently, another company in Massachusetts, UMass Realty, received similar fines for improperly demolishing and renovating a former hospital building. A grand total of $45,412.50 may need to be paid out by UMass Realty in the future.
“Metal recycling facilities must ensure that the scrap metals they receive are clean and free of asbestos, as asbestos is a known carcinogen,” said Kronopolus.