A Bristol County, Massachusetts grand jury has indicted Arthur Amaral and his brother, Shaun Amaral, on charges that they allegedly removed asbestos from buildings in an unsafe manner that violated Clean Air Act rules.
Arthur Amaral, of Middelboro, is the owner of Northeast Demolition and Removal. Shaun, from Norton, is a site foreman for the company. Together, the two removed asbestos from properties in Attleboro and North Attleboro without notifying the state’s environmental agency, MassDEP, in advance. They also directed workers to demolish parts of two buildings in spite of the fact that asbestos-containing products had not been removed according to protocols established by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the MassDEP, reports the state attorney general’s office.
The two then took the asbestos-contaminated debris, placed it in 76 drums and put it in a storage facility in Middleboro whose exact whereabouts have not been revealed. However, according to MassDEP spokesperson Joe Ferson, the drums are not located at 23 Londonderry Lane, the site of Arthur Amaral’s home, foreclosed in 2006. The asbestos has since been removed from its unstated location.
The 23 Londonderry Lane address is one of six homes that Arthur Amaral built off Plympton Street in east Middleboro. Londonderry Lane remains a private roadway after a 2001 town meeting tabled the proposition to absorb it into the city’s domain. It is owned by Laura Jo, Amaral’s wife and the trustee of his company, Northeast Demolition, and currently has a $26,808 tax lien against it.
The grand jury indictment arises out of an investigation by the MassDEP Environmental Crimes Strike Force, which is made up of prosecutors from the state attorney general’s office, investigators and engineers from the DEP, and environmental police acting on behalf of the agency.
The buildings in question are the old Balfour building at 21 East Street in North Attleboro, 888 North Main Street in Attleboro, and 896 North Main Street in the same city. The Amarals reportedly hired a consultant to perform an asbestos survey on the buildings, but did not remove the asbestos-containing material before proceeding with demolition and renovations. Investigators later identified asbestos in some of the debris, including old floor tiles and pipe insulation.
Both Arthur and Shaun face five counts, which include failing to file the mandatory 10-day notice with the MassDEP, knowingly demolishing buildings that contained asbestos, removing the hazardous material without following procedure (wetting and respirators), and disposing of it in an unsafe manner in an unauthorized location.
Asbestos is a natural mineral widely used in insulative products, floor and ceiling tiles, tile glues and weatherstripping caulks up until 1989, when the EPA limited it use to one percent by volume. Foreign products are exempt.
Microscopic asbestos fibers, when released into the air by renovation or demolition, can be inhaled or ingested and migrate to the respiratory or digestive tract, causing cancers. The most dangerous of these is mesothelioma, an almost always fatal cancer of the mesothelial linings of the chest and abdomen. Most mesothelioma sufferers, once diagnosed, are rarely given more than a year to live.
Each of the five counts Arthur and Shaun face carries potential penalties of up to one year in prison, or a $25,000 fine, or both. An arraignment date has yet to be set.
Sources: The Attleboro Sun Chronicle, The Brockton Enterprise News