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July 16, 2014

Oxford company sued for alleged asbestos violations

An Oxford environmental company has been sued for allegedly failing to follow proper procedures while removing materials containing asbestos from a Sturbridge home, Atty. Gen. Martha Coakley’s office announced Wednesday.

The lawsuit against Patriots Environmental Corp., filed Monday in Suffolk Superior Court, also alleges the company failed to pay permit fees to the state for at least 24 projects, as well as a $50,000 penalty issued by the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) for asbestos and hazardous waste violations at others sties, Coakley’s office said.

According to Coakley’s office, Patriots Environmental was hired to remove asbestos shingles from the walls of a single-family home in Sturbridge. The company allegedly caused the shingles to break apart during removal, dropping debris onto the ground and into unsealed plastic bags. Coakley alleges the company also failed to properly contain the shingles after removal.

In addition, the lawsuit claims that Patriots Environmental failed to pay permit application fees to the state for at least 25 asbestos projects between November 2012 and December 2013, as well as the $50,000 MassDEP penalty for violations dating back to 2008.

The lawsuit seeks civil penalties for Massachusetts Clean Air Act violations and payment of the outstanding fees and penalties.

“Asbestos removal … must be performed according to strict procedures to prevent exposure to asbestos fibers, which can create very serious health problems,” Coakley said in a statement.

Ron Bussier, president of Patriots Environmental, did not dispute the lawsuit in a phone interview Wednesday and said he plans to settle with Coakley in court and pay fines owed to MassDEP.

“It’s unfortunate, and we do our best to adhere to all the regulations there are and sometimes we just don’t do a good job at it and we have to do better,” Bussier said.

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