FALL RIVER — A year ago the state Department of Environmental Protection issued a cease and desist order that stopped the demolition of the Healy School. Neighbors have been dealing with piles of contaminated debris currently being removed by government environmental agencies and on the taxpayers' dime.
Now, Rep. Alan Silvia wants to hold developers responsible for the cost of cleanups. He has filed a bill that would require developers to take out performance bonds to cover the costs of environmental cleanups before the demolition of properties.
“This would alleviate the substandard demolition and construction,” said Silvia. “These situations are not good for the communities and it certainly doesn’t help the tax base.”
Spindle City Homes, which owns the Healy property on Hicks Street, and Miranda Construction Co., the company hired to perform the demolition, stopped work after the DEP order in June 2018. The order required asbestos-covered debris to be removed from the site and for dust and particles to be wet down by a licensed hazardous materials abatement company.
Spindle City, owned by Eric Resendes, was also ordered to appropriately dispose of contaminated materials.
In January, Resendes indicated to the Environmental Protection Agency that he couldn’t afford the cleanup and a month later DEP and the environmental contractor, Weston Solutions, were on site to start the cleanup process.
“These are costly cleanup projects that hold a neighborhood hostage,” Silvia said.
The work at the former Healy School continues.
In an update on the cleanup effort, DEP spokesperson Edmund Coletta said the EPA assisted DEP with removal at the site.
On May 8, representatives from DEP, EPA and Weston met at the property, where an assessment was performed to evaluate conditions. Asbestos inspectors collected samples to also test for metals and polychlorinated biphenyls, or PCBs.
Previously, a contractor consolidated piles of asbestos-contaminated debris that were moved to the former school’s basement and covered with poly sheeting. Those piles were covered again during the May 8 visit and reinforced with tarps and strapping.
Ultimately, Spindle City will be responsible for the cost of the initial phase of the cleanup and DEP will seek to recover costs, which could amount to triple the cost in damages.
Email Jo C. Goode at email@example.com.