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Rhode Island Flooring Contractor Agrees to Pay $22,000 Penalty To Resolve EPA Asbestos Claims

Release Date: 08/04/2005
Contact Information:

Contact: David Deegan (, EPA Office of Public Affairs, (617) 918-1017

For Immediate Release: 08/04/05; Release # dd050805

McGovern’s Floor Covering, Inc., a Bristol, RI flooring contractor, has agreed to pay a $22,000 civil penalty to resolve claims made by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency that the company violated asbestos requirements under the federal Clean Air Act during a renovation conducted in August 2003 at a church in Barrington, R.I.

The settlement resolves allegations in an administrative Complaint filed by EPA last March that cited McGovern’s with several violations of federal asbestos regulations known as the “Asbestos NESHAP” pertaining to demolitions and renovations. EPA alleged that the violations took place during a floor installation by McGovern’s in two classrooms within the Barrington Congregational Church.

The job at the Church involved the use of a high-speed sander/grinder on existing vinyl floor tile that was later found, through laboratory analysis, to contain asbestos. EPA alleged that Church officials stopped the work when dust was observed in and around the work area. Suspecting possible contamination, the Church closed the building and hired an environmental consultant to test for asbestos. When testing confirmed the presence of asbestos, the building was thoroughly inspected and a cleanup was performed by a state-certified abatement contractor.

Airborne asbestos fibers, when inhaled into the lungs, can increase the risk of asbestosis, a debilitating lung disease, and may also increase risks for various types of cancers. EPA recognizes no safe level of exposure to airborne asbestos.

“It is important for companies working in areas that could potentially disturb unknown hazards, such as asbestos or lead paint, conduct a thorough investigation before beginning work,” stated Robert W. Varney, regional administrator of EPA’s New England office. “By taking these precautions, contractors can ensure that dangerous situations like this one may be avoided in the future.”

In agreeing to the settlement, EPA considered the seriousness of the violations alleged, the potential for harm to human health and the environment, and McGovern’s financial ability to pay a penalty. In addition to the penalty, the settlement requires McGovern’s to certify that it is now operating in compliance and has taken specific steps to prevent future violations.

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