Shrewsbury property owner to pay state following 2016 fire, chemical release

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Shrewsbury property owner to pay state following 2016 fire, chemical release
Firefighters look on as hazmat crews work at the site of a fire in Shrewsbury in 2016. (Photo/via Shrewsbury Fire Department)

SHREWSBURY – A Shrewsbury resident will pay $120,000 to the state as part of an agreement roughly six years after an explosion and fire on his property allegedly released hazardous chemicals and fumes, according to the state Attorney General’s (AG) Office. 

The agreement came as part of a settlement to a lawsuit the state filed in 2019.

In addition to his payment, Edgar Muntz Jr. will also be required to complete “certain remaining remediation activities at the property.” 

“These defendants ignored our state’s important environmental protection laws and exposed workers and nearby residents to hazardous materials,” Attorney General Maura Healey said on Wednesday. “Today’s settlement ensures that our taxpayers won’t foot the bill for these dangerous  actions and should deter others from such reckless conduct.” 

According to the AG’s office, Muntz hired a demolition contractor – P&M Asphalt Services, Inc. – to demolish a backyard shed on a property he owned at 393 Oak Street in Shrewsbury. 

That shed was reportedly filled with hundreds of containers of chemicals, including dynamite, mercury, arsenic, chloroform and sodium cyanide. 

It then caught fire, the AG’s office said, releasing chemicals into the air and soil on Oct. 25, 2016. 

According to the AG’s Office, Muntz and his contractor did not initially notify agencies of the incident. 

The Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) did began cleanup efforts, however, after a neighbor notified it and other agencies,

 “This case shows that when responsible parties fail to respond to a significant release of hazardous materials, MassDEP will, as appropriate, step in to protect human health and the environment,” MassDEP’s Central Regional Office Director MaryJude Pigsley said on Wednesday.

Workers and a neighbor developed respiratory problems following this incident, according to the AG’s Office.

This week’s settlement, likewise, comes after a separate settlement with P&M Asphalt Services, Inc., which also sent a $120,000 payment to the state. 

Money from both settlements will help reimburse the state for its costs in helping clean up this incident.

Shrewsbury property owner to pay state following 2016 fire, chemical release
Hazmat crews work at the site of a fire in Shrewsbury in 2016. (Photo/via Shrewsbury Fire Department)