Connecticut’s attorney general filed a motion of contempt on Friday against a Madison man accused of maintaining an illegal asbestos transfer station at his property in West Haven.
In 2014, James Pero was ordered to remove asbestos waste from an illegal site at 18 Helm St. and pay a $32,000 civil penalty. But according to the state’s court filing, Pero, who owns an asbestos removal business, has neither ceased to operate the transfer station — where removed asbestos sits — nor paid the fine.
“This site is a threat to public health and the environment and must be remediated immediately,” said Connecticut attorney general William Tong in a press release on Friday. “James Pero was ordered back in 2014 to remove all asbestos and waste from this site and to remediate the property. James Pero has not cleaned up his act.”
According to the press release, investigators from Connecticut’s Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, or DEEP, recently observed asbestos in unlocked trailers and open containers at the site. The release states that though much of the asbestos at the site is stored in trash bags, some is “loose and scattered on the ground.”
A DEEP memorandum in support of the motion of contempt, which is included in the court filing, notes that the department has worked to force Pero to comply with state law “for almost the past decade.” In 2011, Pero entered a consent order in which he agreed to properly remediate the site and stop operating it illegally. According to the memorandum, he did not do so, resulting in the 2014 court action.
Per the 2014 court order, Pero was also required to retain a licensed environmental consultant to assess damage at the site, submit a remediation plan and document the removal of asbestos waste at the site. According to the court filing, he did not do so.
In a phone interview with the News on Monday, Pero said that he had just been made aware of the motion a few minutes prior when he received it in the mail. He declined to provide any further comment.
Friday’s filing urges the court to consider “coercive remedies” to compel Pero’s compliance with the 2014 order.
The DEEP memorandum suggests incarceration should Pero continue to fail to comply with the 2014 order, citing the fact that he has not yet paid the outstanding fine.
“Because Defendant Pero will likely attribute the ongoing violations at the Site to his financial condition, it is most likely that levying a penalty would have little practical effect to coerce his compliance,” the memorandum reads.
In the Friday statement, DEEP Commissioner Katie Dykes praised the motion of contempt.
“Today’s action by the Attorney General sends a clear message that this type of blatant disregard of environmental laws will not be tolerated,” she said.
Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral which is linked to several diseases, including cancer.
Talia Soglin | firstname.lastname@example.org .