EPA fines two companies…

The federal Environmental Protection Agency has brought a total of more than $630,000 in penalties against two Rhode Island companies for alleged violations of clean-air regulations.

David Santanelli, co-owner of Bilray Demolition Company in Johnston — one of the two companies cited by the EPA — said he intends to challenge the complaint in court.

The EPA has proposed a $378,700 fine against the Southeastern New England Shipbuilding Corp., or Senesco, in North Kingstown, for violations of both state and federal clean-air regulations.

It has proposed fines of $256,320 against Bilray for violations involving asbestos removal when it demolished the former Seaboard Foundry in Johnston, after a fire at the facility in 2004.

The EPA alleges that Bilray failed to thoroughly inspect for asbestos before it demolished the facility; failed to provide the EPA with prior written notification of its intent to demolish; failed to adequately wet asbestos during its stripping operations; failed to keep asbestos adequately wet until it was collected and contained for disposal; and failed to properly dispose of the asbestos waste.

Santanelli said his contract stated asbestos removal was not his responsibility: if asbestos was found “it should be additional to the contract.” He faulted the owner of the Seaboard property for delaying the abatement process.

Santanelli said the owner’s initial inspection showed “no visual signs of asbestos. Towards the end of the project, we came by small amounts of asbestos paneling … we stopped work immediately and reported this to the owner. We did try to get a consultant out to test it and make sure it was asbestos. We had to wait until the weather cleared up and snow was off the ground. So I’m being allegedly fined from the day when there was a blizzard to when the snow was cleared up.”

Santanelli said there was a lot of “back and forth” discussion of what to do about the asbestos, “until finally the state Health Department stepped in and said, ‘OK, let’s get an abatement plan together and remove it.’ Even at that point, the contract clearly stated that asbestos was not our responsibility.”

He added, “There’s nothing we can do on someone’s private property unless the owner gives us permission. You have to get an abatement plan; there are certain steps you have to follow. You have to get an inspection report done, and if the owner doesn’t give us the authority to do that, we can’t do that without his OK. So the EPA is trying to fine us for not abating the asbestos at the time we found it, and not disposing of it at the time we found it.”

In a statement released the EPA said Bilray removed asbestos-containing material from the facility in September 2005. Santanelli said, “I do have proper manifests showing I had abated it properly.”

The EPA complaint against Senesco, of North Kingstown, alleges that the company violated federal air-quality requirements outlined in the National Emissions Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants — specifically for shipbuilding and repair facilities — by failing to submit notifications and reports, failing to keep records, and using paints with hazardous air pollutant contents greater than the allowable limits.

It also alleges that Senesco failed to apply for an operating permit required under the federal Clean Air Act, despite having potential xylene emissions greater than 10 tons per year. And, it failed to comply with Rhode Islands “State Implementation Plan” for air quality by failing to apply for a new source review permit before commencing construction of its facility.

A statement the EPA released notes that since the violations were brought to the company’s attention, Senesco has since obtained the new source review permit from the state Department of Environmental Management, and has submitted a Title V application.