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MA Contractor Cited for Sub’s Lapses

Thursday, August 15, 2013

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A Massachusetts contractor faces a $28,125 federal fine for alleged lead hazards created by a window subcontractor on a historic renovation project in Maine.

The Environmental Protection Agency previously cited the subcontractor, who is facing a $90,750 fine in the same case.

Acting on an anonymous tip followed by inspections, the EPA has proposed the new fine against James J. Welch & Co., Inc., of Salem, MA, for problems that allegedly occurred during a renovation project at the former Frisbee School in Kittery, ME.

Frisbee School
Wikimedia Commons / John Phelan

The allegations against the primary contractor and a subcontractor involve renovation work at the former Frank C. Frisbee School, built in 1941.

Welch was the primary contractor on the project, which, during renovation, was a child-occupied facility subject to EPA’s Renovation, Repair and Painting (RRP) Rule.

Focus on Subcontractor

Inspections in February 2012 by EPA and the Maine Department of Environmental Protection "determined that JJ Welch did not ensure that a company hired as a subcontractor to replace windows at the school complied with the required work practice requirements of the RRP Rule," EPA said in a release.

EPA filed a complaint against the subcontractor, New Hampshire Plate Glass Corp., of Portsmouth, NH, in the same case in February. That case remains open, an EPA spokesman said Wednesday (Aug. 14).

The allegations against Welch include failure to:

  • Assign a certified renovator to the work site;
  • Cover ground with plastic sheeting; and
  • Contain waste from the renovation activity.
Frisbee School
Maine Historic Preservation Commission

EPA is holding the primary contractor responsible for alleged lead safety lapses by the subcontractor.

JJ Welch did not immediately respond Wednesday to a request for comment.

RRP Requirements

EPA’s RRP Rule, which took effect in April 2010, requires contractors at most pre-1978 housing and child-occupied facilities to be properly trained.

The rule lays out certification and training requirements for individual renovators and firms to ensure that safe work practices are followed. The rule allows for penalties of up to $37,500 per violation per day.

Infants and young children are especially vulnerable to lead paint exposure, which can cause developmental impairment, reading and learning disabilities, impaired hearing, reduced attention span, hyperactivity and behavioral problems. Adults with high lead levels can suffer difficulties during pregnancy, high blood pressure, nerve disorders, memory problems and muscle and joint pain.

About the Project

Built in 1941, the former Frank C. Frisbee School is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The Colonial Revival-style school was built to serve the famlies of the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard on the eve of the United States' entry into World War II, according to the Maine Historic Preservation Commission.

The building was closed in 2009 to be renovated and returned to the town of Kittery.


Tagged categories: Environmental Protection Agency (EPA); General contractors; Historic Structures; Lead; Lead Renovation, Repair and Painting Rule (LRRP); Schools; Subcontractors; Windows

Comment from Gregory Stoner, (8/17/2013, 8:52 AM)

Hopefully this show the industry that the EPA is serious and stop putting future generations at risk. I would think that the owner should share responsibility in that surveys should have been preformed on all hazardous materials on such a dated building like asbestos. Maybe that will come later ...

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