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Bennington / Hancock

DES calls for asbestos cleanup

Tenant reports landlord’s activity

Asbestos originated in the basement of yellow house, located on 26 Elmwood Rd. in Hancock, according to police reports.

Photo taken by Dan Ramage.

Asbestos originated in the basement of yellow house, located on 26 Elmwood Rd. in Hancock, according to police reports. Photo taken by Dan Ramage. Purchase photo reprints at Photo Finder »

The Department of Environmental Services is overseeing an asbestos cleanup at a private residence in Bennington and a tenant building in Hancock, after police discovered a man took asbestos from a Hancock apartment building and attempted to dump it at a residential property in Bennington on Wednesday.

On Wednesday at 6:45 p.m., Bennington police received a call from Daniel Ramage of 26 Elmwood Rd. in Hancock, who informed police that he had another man blocked in a driveway at 56 Bible Hill Rd. in Bennington, according to a police report of the incident signed by Officer Brett Sullivan and dated Feb. 28, which was provided by the N.H. Department of Environmental Services. Ramage told police that it was his landlord, a Hancock man, was in the truck that was blocked in, according to the police report. Ramage reported to police that a representative from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency was at the residence on Elmwood Road earlier that day, and the EPA representative told his landlord not to move asbestos from the Hancock residence and to have it removed by a professional.

When police first became involved on Wednesday, Officer Brett Sullivan said in an interview Monday that he contacted the EPA, but he is not sure if the agency is still involved or not.

Ramage told police his landlord was trying to hide the asbestos at 56 Bible Hill Rd. in Bennington. The property at 26 Elmwood Rd. in Hancock consists of a tenant building where the asbestos originated, another house and a cottage, according to Ramage.

Police said they spoke with the landlord in question, who said he was instructed not to move the asbestos by himself. Police observed several bags in the back of the man’s pickup truck that appeared to be asbestos.

An employee of DES verified the substance was asbestos on Wednesday, DES Compliance Bureau Administrator Pam Monroe said in an interview Monday.

DES told the Hancock landlord that he needed to take all the bags of asbestos and bring them back to Hancock, and they would deal with it there, Bennington Police Chief Steve Campbell said in an interview Thursday. Since the case is now out of Bennington police’s jurisdiction, that agency is no longer involved, Campbell said.

Messages left for the landlord Monday were not returned by press time.

Monroe said cleanup is ongoing at the private residence in Bennington as well as tenant building in Hancock. She said the asbestos residue in question originated from the basement of the tenant building at 26 Elmwood Rd., and had been transported to Bennington. DES was concerned that there was a potential release of asbestos into the air, but Monroe said she does not have evidence that there was a release in this situation. Regarding the transportation of the asbestos, Monroe said the truck used had a cover over the back, so no asbestos seems to have escaped into the air.

“You have to wet it and keep it from getting airborne,” Monroe said, referring to asbestos. She said a DES contractor, Alpha Asbestos Abatement of Bedford, will be using this process to cleanup the asbestos along with other standard procedures.

Alpha is a licensed asbestos contractor with the DES, Monroe said, and the property owner will be responsible for the full payment of the clean up services. Monroe could not estimate the cost of clean up.

“There may be a notice issued,” Monroe said, to the landlord, and there is a wide range of potential enforcements through DES. If a fine is issued, the property owner could pay up to $2,000 per violation. If the situation is determined to be a civil case, the fine could go up to $25,000 a day to be issued through the County Attorney’s Office.

Once cleanup at both locations is complete, Monroe said DES will look to see if any state enforcements will be issued. As long as things get taken care of, Monroe said the department usually just issues a notice of violation issue, but the department could issue a notice of administrative fines as well. It could take time before a notice is issued since Monroe said the department wants to get everything cleaned up and taken care of first, and then the time frame also varies due to the workload within the department.

There is a whole state law regarding asbestos because of the public health implications from exposure, she said. Asbestos is linked with diseases like mesothelioma and asbestosis, she added. Someone could contract these diseases from inhaling asbestos, but Monroe said DES did not find evidence of the release of asbestos into the air. She said generally people who work under the constant exposure to asbestos, like shipyard workers, for years are more at risk to asbestos.

In an interview Thursday, Ramage said he saw his landlord loading bags into his truck Wednesday night and decided to follow him. Ramage said the bags of asbestos started showing up in the basement of what’s known as “the Meeting House,” Ramage said, and he saw 11 bags in the basement before his landlord tried to bring them to Bennington on Wednesday.

Piping with asbestos was also left on the lawn, Ramage said.

“The more public notice the better,” Ramage said. “I don’t want [my landlord] getting away with it.”

Lindsey Arceci can be reached at 924-7172, ext. 232, or larceci@ledgertranscript.com.

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