Emerson College and a construction company hired to work for the school have agreed to pay $250,000 each in civil penalties for alleged asbestos violations committed during building renovations that may have resulted in the public’s exposure to the dangerous material, officials said.
Attorney General Martha Coakley’s office said Friday that violations of the state’s air pollution prevention statute and asbestos regulations occurred during the renovation of the school’s 13-story Colonial Building in 2007 and 2008.
According to a statement from the attorney general, the complaint filed in Suffolk Superior Court states that in 2007 Emerson College hired Suffolk Construction Co. to renovate the building at 100 Boylston St. for use as a student dormitory.
Suffolk Construction hired an engineering firm to test the building for asbestos. That firm then appointed an asbestos consultant to do the work, Coakley’s office said.
The consultant said that it was unable to reach all areas of the building for testing and recommended further testing when access can be obtained, the attorney general’s office said.
Emerson College and Suffolk Construction knew that more testing was needed, but failed to act on it before demolition and renovations began at the building, Coakley’s statement said.
Both Emerson and Suffolk Construction deny the allegations and agreed to settle the case, the statement said.
“Emerson College did not knowingly violate any processes,” Andy Tiedemann, a spokesman for the school, said in e-mail Friday night. “We are very pleased that this matter has been settled to the satisfaction of all involved, and we look forward to continuing our efforts to contribute to the cultural and economic development of Boston, one of the nation’s great cities.”
Suffolk Construction did not immediately return calls for comment.
The department inspected the site after most of the demolition and removal had been completed and found materials containing asbestos throughout the building, Coakley’s office said.
The attorney general’s office alleged that the public may have been exposed to asbestos-contaminated materials that were moved from the site.
Workers at recycling facilities where materials were sent may also have been exposed, Coakley’s office said.
The Department of Environmental Protection suspended activities at the site until an asbestos abatement was conducted to remove all the dangerous material, the statement said.
The school is being required by the court to prepare and implement an operations and maintenance plan for the building to prevent similar instances in the future, the statement said.
“A full building survey and materials test is required before conducting any building demolition, renovation, or reconstruction that may impact asbestos-containing materials,” Kenneth Kimmell, commissioner of the Department of Environmental Protection, said in the statement.
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