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DEP Fines Local Businesses Nearly $100K For Environmental Violations This Year

Asbestos warning sign photo illustration
Asbestos warning sign photo illustration Photo Credit: By Ktorbeck - Original uploader was Ktorbeck at en.wikipedia7 July 2007 (original upload date), Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=12001398

A Central Massachusetts man has been assessed the largest fine from the state’s Department of Environmental Protection so far in 2021.

Nathaniel Odell of Upton has been fined a little over $40,000 for allegedly demolishing a Franklin residence without proper care for asbestos, according to a Feb. 8 “notice of intent to assess a civil administrative penalty.”

Odell has a right to challenge the allegations and appeal the fine through a hearing.

While Odell has been assessed the highest fine yet this year, he is not the only local company to receive a hefty penalty from the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (DEP). There are four other agencies west of I-495 that have been assessed DEP fines of more than $1,000 since the start of 2021. In many cases, fines may be reduced if a business/person can make DEP-required improvements within a set timeframe.

Shane Peaselee of Pittsfield has been assessed a $29,667 fine for the alleged improper removal of asbestos.

Westfield Paper Lands in Russell has been fined $17,500 in a “final decision” that concluded the property owner, William Hull, had improperly disposed of asbestos at 52 Carrington Road (which is also known as 52 Station Road) in Russell.

American Environmental Inc. in Holyoke has been assessed a $7,500 fine for the alleged improper disposal of asbestos during demolition of the Worcester Dining Commons at UMass Amherst. The DEP claimed the company, whose president is Jose Julio Bermejo, left golfball-sized pieces of dry asbestos on a loading dock as well as other infractions.

Balise of West Springfield, which includes Lexus, Nissan, and Toyota dealerships, was assessed a $7,000 fine for allegedly failing to conduct a required environmental audit and generating more waste oil than permitted among other infractions.

In Odell’s case, according to the DEP, in 2019, Odell demolished a barn and home on a property in Franklin which he owned. Odell’s plan was to construct a new single-family home, according to DEP documents.

Although Odell had a permit for the work from the town’s building inspector, the DEP alleged that removal of asbestos at the site did not follow protocols that would keep the cancer-causing agent from escaping into the air during removal as well as transportation to an approved waste center.

In their notice to Odell, the DEP said Odell, who is a manager at O & O General Contracting, “willfully” ignored environmental protection law.

In 2021, a little over a dozen companies in Central and Western Massachusetts as well as the Berkshires have been assessed $500-$1,000 fines by the DEP for failing to file completed paperwork. These businesses include hospitals, car dealerships, a police department, gas stations, and a country club.

Local businesses fined by the DEP for paperwork issues are A&A Mart Williamstown, Bigelow Nurseries Inc. Northborough, City View Mini Mart Chicopee, Pilot Travel Center LLC Sturbridge, St. Vincent Hospital Worcester, Swift Mart Springfield, Westfield Barnes Regional Airport Westfield, Wyckoff Country Club Inc. Holyoke, Heywood Hospital Gardner, Chicopee Police Department, Haddad Toyota Pittsfield, Sparkys Springfield, Thomas Energy Center Worcester, Westfield Gulf.

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