2018-11-30 / Front Page

Asbestos removal results in fine

By Ed Pierce Journal Tribune

KENNEBUNK — A New Hampshire asbestos removal company has agreed to pay a $4,000 fine as part of a consensual agreement with the Maine Department of Environmental Protection and the Maine Office of the Attorney General for violations observed during a residential project in February in Kennebunk.

EnviroVantage, Inc., based in Epping, New Hampshire, is licensed to perform asbestos abatement work in Maine and company workers were removing 325 square feet of asbestos-containing linoleum at a home on Fletcher Street in Kennebunk on Feb. 1 when the violations of Maine’s asbestos management regulations were reported.

“To do asbestos work in Maine, you have to be authorized,” said Ronald Mongeon of the Maine Department of Environmental Protection. “The violations were witnessed during a random routine compliance inspection.”

“Mongeon said DEP inspectors observed that EnviroVantage employees failed to decontaminate prior to exiting a regulated area, failed to leave potentially contaminated clothing in a regulated area, and engaged in asbestos abatement activities without a valid certification.”

According to information in an administrative consent agreement about the case, DEP staff observed that EnviroVantage employees did not leave their street clothes in the site’s clean room and a company supervisor told an inspector they were wearing street clothing underneath their disposable suits while inside a negative pressure enclosure. The workers also did not shower as required prior to entering the established clean room.

In addition, two of the three EnviroVantage staff members at the Kennebunk project were not certified in asbestos removal, yet had been working in a regulated area.

Maine law stipulates that an individual who engages in asbestos abatement activities must obtain prior certification before any project commences. It also specifies that asbestos removal workers should decontaminate themselves before leaving a regulated area and that clothing worn underneath protective suits must be labeled, out in a container and removed only in regulated areas.

On March 26, EnviroVantage and the company’s president, Scott Knightly, were notified by the Department of Environmental Protection of violations observed by inspectors including a lack of decontamination, not labeling and putting clothing in proper containers in regulated areas, and the lack of certification for employees

To resolve the violations, Mongeon said that EnviroVantage has agreed to conduct quarterly training for all employees, will ensure that all employees are properly certified and to pay a civil monetary fine in the amount of $4,000 to the state.

EnviroVantage also agreed to pay up to $100 per day if it does not follow the provisions of the consensual agreement it entered into with Maine DEP and the Maine Attorney General’s Office to resolve the violations.

Maine strictly regulates asbestos abatement and removal projects because of the potential health risks associated with the mineral substance.

When handled, asbestos can separate into microscopic size particles that float in the air and are easily inhaled. Individuals exposed to asbestos through their occupation have developed numerous life-threatening diseases, including asbestosis, lung cancer and mesothelioma.

From the 1920s to the 1970s, asbestos was commonly used for a range of manufactured goods, but mainly in building materials such as roofing shingles, ceiling and floor tiles, paper products, automobile parts, and heat-resistant fabrics, packaging, gaskets, and coatings.

Although the use of asbestos products has significantly declined since the 1970s because of its risks, many products can still be found in a residential and commercial settings and pose harmful health dangers to workers and residents.

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health and the National Cancer Institute cite exposure to asbestos as a major factor in the development of lung disease and symptoms may take many years to develop following exposure.

The EnviroVantage company has been involved in a number of recent commercial projects in York County, including renovation work performed at The Loft at Saco Falls and the Prime Tanning demolition and cleanup in Berwick.

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