Property Owner Had Tenants Remove Asbestos

A Massachusetts property owner has been indicted on charges of illegal asbestos abatement that could have put her tenants and neighbors at an increased risk of developing mesothelioma, according to by state Attorney General Martha Coakley.

Fifty-nine-year-old Susan Nissenbaum was charged with three counts of violating the Massachusetts Clean Air Act after she allegedly failed to file a notice of asbestos removal with the state Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP), improper asbestos removal, and improper asbestos storage. In April 2010, she allegedly paid off two of her tenants at a property in Springfield so they would illegally remove asbestos siding and store it.

The tenants were never given proper asbestos abatement tools, and never told how to safely handle products that contain the deadly fibers. State law requires that asbestos removal projects only be performed by licensed contractors who can safely remove the products without increasing the mesothelioma risk of the area by releasing asbestos fibers into the air. In this case, the asbestos products were stored in torn bags – an improper and unsafe method of storage for asbestos.

Nissenbaum also never informed MassDEP of the asbestos abatement project, as she was required to do so by law.

“We allege that this defendant put her tenants at risk by having them unsafely remove asbestos from the property and failing to warn them of the dangers involved,” Coakley said in a press release.

MassDEP Commissioner Kenneth Kimmell added that those who try to circumvent state laws involving the safe removal of asbestos products “not only put the health and safety of workers and nearby residents in jeopardy, but they will most assuredly be looking at elevated enforcement and that could include loss of license, a financial penalty and even criminal charges.” 

Nissenbaum is scheduled to be arraigned in Superior Court at a later date.

If you or a loved one has been harmed by asbestos exposure and now suffer from an illness such as mesothelioma, call Sokolove Law today to learn more about pursuing a mesothelioma claim.