KITTERY, Maine — Federal environmental regulators announced Monday they will penalize a Massachusetts contractor that renovated a former Kittery school for allegedly violating rules intended to protect children from lead-based paint exposure.
According to an announcement issued Monday by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, James J. Welch & Co., Inc., based in Salem, Mass., faces a fine of $28,125 for violations that occurred during renovations of the former Frisbee School.
The EPA inspected the work site in February 2012 as the result of an anonymous tip, the agency stated Monday.
“The Kittery site was, at the time of the renovation, a child-occupied facility subject to EPA’s Renovation, Repair and Painting — RRP — rule,” the announcement stated, in part. “Based on the inspection, EPA 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, including failure to assign a certified renovator to the work site; failure to cover ground with plastic sheeting; and failure to contain waste from the renovation activity.”
The RRP rule aims to prevent exposure to lead-based paint commonly found in pre-1978 housing and school facilities, in part by setting guidelines for containment and disposal of suspected lead-based paints. The JJ Welch penalty announced Monday was a relatively small fine, considering that the 2010 rule allows for fines as great as $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,” the EPA announcement continued. “Adults with high lead levels can suffer difficulties during pregnancy, high blood pressure, nerve disorders, memory problems and muscle and joint pain.”
The 1941 Frisbee School at 120 Rogers Road was tapped for closure by the Kittery School Committee in 2009 and turned over to the town for reuse later that year.
In 2010, the town’s Frisbee School Revitalization Committee recommended a two-year, $5.5-million renovation plan for the facility to convert the structure into a community center and performance space.