Residents of an apartment complex in Rockland, Massachusetts were told that their building would only be undergoing bathroom upgrades, and now are concerned to learn that the project entailed asbestos removal without their knowledge.

Fox Boston 25 News reports that residents of Spring Gate Apartments in Rockland, MA were issued a letter on April 5 informing them that the property owner, First Hartford Realty Corporation, “were pleased to announce renovations that ‘includes bathroom upgrades.’” In this letter, the residents were also informed that some tenants would need to “vacate your apartment for up to ten (10) days.” During this time, tenants were told that they would not be able to access their apartments, but that a construction crew would be sure to cover their furnishings and clean up construction debris before residents returned to their homes.

One resident, Melissa Ladd, told Boston 25, “They never mentioned asbestos, no mention of asbestos ever.”

However, a resident of the building noticed that the bathroom upgrade project appeared to be covered for asbestos removal. This person contacted the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), and the department immediately ordered all work at Spring Gate Apartments to cease.

The DEP sent a letter to residents apprising them that there were multiple violations found on the site, including “improper containment” and “asbestos-containing debris outside of work area without proper containment and exposed to ambient air.”

After the DEP was notified of the possible asbestos exposure at Spring Gate, one resident recorded video of a worker taping up a plastic bag covering a dumpster where construction debris had been disposed of. Melissa Ladd told reporters, “They were carrying things out, asbestos that was not in the proper bags or contained.”

Now, Spring Gate has moved residents affected by this project to temporary housing, but Melissa Ladd says her housing is much smaller than she and her three children were accustomed to. The inconvenience of her new living situation is one thing, but Ladd’s concerns about whether she and her children were exposed to asbestos is a far more serious issue. She says, “I would have looked into the asbestos situation because I’ve been here for 9 years and there have been many times that they’ve come in and done work on the walls, the floors, the ceilings.”

For their part, Spring Gate sent Boston 25 documents stating that all residents had been alerted to the asbestos removal project, and that tenants had known as early as 2015 that the complex was engaged in a long-term asbestos removal plan. The company has submitted new plans to the DEP for the asbestos removal, but the agency will not green-light the project until all plans are finalized so that residents can rest assured that they will not be exposed to the toxic mineral.

Not only could Spring Gate Apartments and their owner, First Hartford Realty, face thousands of dollars in fines for the multiple alleged violations of asbestos exposure laws, but they may also be held responsible for their negligence many years into the future if any person who traces their asbestos exposure to this building is diagnosed with mesothelioma or another asbestos disease.

There is no safe level of asbestos exposure, and legally any person who is at risk of exposure must be properly warned, protected, and monitored for health conditions after possible exposure. If you or your loved one has been exposed to asbestos or diagnosed with an asbestos-related illness, please contact our attorneys to learn how we can help you hold negligent parties accountable in a free legal consultation.