Thursday, June 20, 2013
By Matt Hongoltz-Hetling firstname.lastname@example.org
WILTON -- After being given "one last chance" from the state Department of Environmental Protection, Wilton Recycling has begun working actively to protect the public from asbestos at a demolition site it owns on Depot Street.
A written remediation plan for the site is due to be submitted to the department today.
The demolition site, formerly Forster Mill, has been the focus of DEP enforcement efforts since last July, when the Occupational Safety and Health Administration first documented high levels of the harmful, cancer-causing material.
Ryan Blyther, 35, of Scarborough, doing business as Downeast Construction, was the general contractor who was primarily responsible for the demolition project. He voluntarily pulled his workers from the site in July, but he faces fines from OSHA for citations of workplace safety violations. In May, he was sentenced to six months in jail for stealing $50,000 from the American Legion in an unrelated building project.
Adam Mack, of Wilton Recycling, met with town officials, the DEP and the Environmental Protection Agency in late June to discuss the matter.
Based on the meeting, Mack was given a timetable that established firm, immediate deadlines for initial steps, according to Samantha Depoy-Warren, a spokesperson for the DEP.
"The site owner is being given one last chance to initiate remediation action, pursuant to a schedule DEP and (the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency) have developed," Depoy-Warren said.
On Tuesday, Mack began working actively on the site.
"We just spent $4,000 to board up some windows and do some of the other work that we agreed to," said Mack on Friday. "We're working to come up with a plan. Our company does plan to go forward and take care of the cleanup."
The checklist of items that was due to be completed by July 4 consisted of items designed to protect the public by removing access to the site. Windows and doors were boarded up, a debris pile and a Dumpster were covered with secured tarps, a fence was secured, and a path was blocked.
"Those were completed. The site is secured. They did everything they were supposed to," Depoy-Warren said Friday. "One of our asbestos guys suited up and entered the building, and he did confirm it."
Given the amount of time that has passed, Depoy-Warren said, the news was welcome, and long overdue.
"This is the first action that happened at the site for almost a year, so it's a very good sign," she said. "Obviously the department is really happy that progress has been made. This is a historic building in the town and one that the town would like to see remediated."
By today, Mack is required to come up with a written remediation plan to clean up the asbestos itself. The plan must include the name of an abatement contractor, and work must begin by July 16, Depoy-Warren said.
The remediation efforts should proceed relatively quickly after that, she said, estimating that the site would be completely safe "in a matter of months."
Mack said Friday that he had not been presented with a firm timetable of deadlines for the future work.
If the work does not proceed satisfactorily, Depoy-Warren said, the EPA is ready to come in and perform the work itself, at Mack's expense.
"The bottom line is that one way or another -- whether it is by the responsible party rightfully stepping up or by government action -- this site will be cleaned up to ensure adequate protections," Depoy-Warren said.
Both Wilton Recycling and Downeast Construction may be fined for violations stemming from the activity on the site.
"Consent agreements outlining sizable financial penalties, as well as required remediation, were hand-delivered to Adam Mack and sent by certified mail to Ryan Blyther," said Depoy-Warren, who noted that Blyther's notice was unlikely to reach him, because he is incarcerated.
Matt Hongoltz-Hetling -- 861-9287