For Immediate Release
June 14, 2012
K. Allen Brooks, Senior Assistant Attorney General
Attorney General Michael A. Delaney and Commissioner Thomas S. Burack of the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services ("DES") announce that the Strafford County Superior Court (Lewis, J.) has approved a settlement between the State and M&E Jespersen Realty, LLC; Holgate Limited Partnership; Harrington Irrevocable Trust and William Hopkins, Jr. (collectively "settling defendants") in resolution of claims of unlawful asbestos removal and disposal at a property located in Dover. One additional party, Michael J. Davis, is subject to a final default judgment. M&E Jespersen Realty purchased the property from the Holgate Limited Partnership run by the Harrington Irrevocable Trust and William Hopkins. Michael J. Davis, d/b/a Do It All Davis, is the contractor who did the demolition and was responsible for disposal.
The State alleged that no notice was given to the State prior to the destruction of a former commercial building at 125 Stark Avenue, in Dover, N.H. This notice is required by State law regardless of whether or not asbestos is known to be present. The notice provides an opportunity for the State to decide whether precautions, such as testing for asbestos or asbestos abatement, should occur prior to demolition. The State also alleged that the defendants knew or should have known that the building contained a significant quantity of asbestos because they had obtained an environmental report prior to demolition. The report stated that the building contained approximately 10,000 square feet of asbestos, predominantly in roofing material and mastic floor tile. Nevertheless, the building was demolished without first removing the asbestos containing materials, thus increasing the risk of asbestos becoming airborne and posing a health threat to site workers and neighbors. Based on this evidence, the State alleged that the defendants failed to use appropriate asbestos removal methods which involve measures such as wetting the asbestos prior to removal and establishing plastic containment barriers in order to prevent asbestos fibers from becoming airborne and being inhaled. Asbestos fibers have been linked to a significant increase in diseases, including asbestosis and mesothelioma. The State also alleged that the asbestos was sent to several disposal facilities only one of which, the Turnkey Waste Management Facility in Rochester ("Turnkey"), was qualified to accept such waste. Even the waste sent to Turnkey was not properly packaged or labeled, creating the possibility of improper handling and subsequent exposure to Turnkey personnel or the public.
Under the terms of the settlement, the settling defendants will be assessed a penalty of $110,000. $25,000 of this penalty will be suspended provided these defendants do not violate asbestos laws or the terms of the agreement for two years. The remaining $85,000 shall be paid to the State within sixty days of the date of the Court's order. The State obtained a default judgment and continues to seek a final judgment against the contractor who did the demolition and disposal, Michael J. Davis d/b/a Do It All Davis; however, Mr. Davis has filed for bankruptcy. The State is seeking permission from the bankruptcy court to obtain a final judgment that includes significant civil penalties.
Copies of the settlement agreement between the State and the settling defendants are available upon request.
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