By LAURENNE RAMSDELL
Saturday, June 16, 2012
DOVER — Local property owners will be forced to pay the state $110,000 for the improper demolition of a building on Stark Avenue that contained large amounts of asbestos.
The state argued that a set of local property owners and their representatives violated the state’s Asbestos Management and Control Act statute by improperly removing hazardous material known as asbestos while demolishing a facility formerly located at 125 Stark Ave.
Back in 2008, M&E Jespersen Realty of Stratham purchased a property at 125 Stark Ave. along with Holgate Limited Partnership of Dover. The property contained a 5,316-square-foot single-story commercial building that the new property owners decided to demolish. In order to do so, however, the owners were required to obtain all necessary permits before demolition could begin.
According to court documents, HTE Northeast, Inc. was hired to conduct an environmental site assessment of the property, sampling the flooring and roofing materials of the building to determine if the building contained asbestos.
Record indicates that HTE found the building contained at least 7,720 square feet of materials containing asbestos. HTE reportedly recommended to Jespersen that all asbestos material be removed by a licensed contractor before the building being demolished — a procedure court documents estimated to cost around $32,320.
Reportedly, Holgate told Jespersen the property was free of asbestos. Court records also indicate that Harrington Irrevocable Trust, a partner of Holgate based in Dover, and William F. Hopkins Jr. of Dover, a representative of Holgate and Harrington, were also apprised of the asbestos situation.
In early October 2009 Jespersen began demolishing the property with the help of Michael J. Davis of Somersworth, although neither were licensed nor certified in asbestos removal.
Court documents indicate no written notice of demolition, which is required by law, was sent to the Department of Environmental Services before the demolition of the building.
“The failure to provide this notice to the Department precluded the Department from evaluating the impacts of the demolition of the Building before demolition occurring,” reads the court docket.
Not long after demolition began, the state was notified demolition was occurring on Stark Avenue without proper notice.
Those affiliated with the demolition of the building reportedly told a representative of the state who visited the site that all rules and laws were being followed, and that all hazardous materials had been removed.
Aside from improperly addressing asbestos while demolishing the building, the state claimed materials from the structure were improperly disposed of as they contained asbestos and were placed in dumpsters that were not properly lined.
According to state law, asbestos waste must be disposed of at certified disposal sites, as it contains materials that are hazardous to health.
Court documents report debris from the Stark Avenue demolition was disposed of at Turnkey Landfill in Rochester, ERRCO in Epping, and Aggregate Recycling Corp. in Eliot, Maine.
“Davis did not notify the receiving landfill or landfills prior to disposing of asbestos waste,” reads the docket.
For all of the above reasons, the state deemed the demolition of the structure at 125 Stark Ave. as unlawful and the actions of those responsible for the demolition as negligent. The state filed a complaint with the courts in February 2011.
Just a few weeks ago, the state Department of Environmental Services, along with Jespersen, Holgate and Hopkins, entered into a consent decree.
The responsible parties have agreed to pay the state a civil penalty in the total of $110,000, with $25,000 of that amount suspended if none of the parties violate terms of the consent decree or any provisions of the Asbestos Control Act for two years.
Jespersen is responsible for $35,000 of the total amount, while Holgate, Harrington Trust and Hopkins will be responsible for $50,000 of the penalties specified in the consent decree.
Davis was not included in the consent decree, as the state will be seeking final judgment against him separately.
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