State Hazardous Waste Board Suspends License

BOSTON – On August 4, 2014, the state Board of Registration of Hazardous Waste Site Cleanup Professionals suspended the license of Richard J. Cushing of Clinton for eight months in a Consent Order that resolved disciplinary charges that were pending against him. While Mr. Cushing did not admit to any wrongdoing, he agreed to the suspension of his license and waived his right to an appeal.

The Environmental Strike Force of the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) filed a complaint with the Board alleging that Mr. Cushing, whose business was based in Reading, erroneously concluded that an imminent hazard did not exist at a former dry cleaner in Ayer, Mass.  The building on the property was occupied by a video rental store that had at least one full-time worker.

Mr. Cushing did not test the indoor air in the video store after more than 2 million  parts per billion of vapor from tetrachloroethylene or “PCE,” were detected in soil gas.  He filed a report with MassDEP that did not mention the possibility of an imminent hazard.

MassDEP ordered the indoor air tested and found that, although Mr. Cushing stated that an imminent hazard did not exist, in fact the cancer risk calculated from the test results was six times higher than the threshold for an imminent hazard. The building was evacuated.

The Board investigated the complaint and initiated disciplinary action, contending that Mr. Cushing failed to comply with the standard of care and failed to exercise independent professional judgment as a Licensed Site Professional (LSP).

Mr. Cushing contested the Board’s charges, and a hearing was held. The Presiding Officer ruled that Mr. Cushing failed to use independent professional judgment and relied too much on a risk assessor to determine whether the contamination posed an imminent hazard to human health.

Kirk Franklin, a member of the Board, commented: “Our priority is always to protect human health and the environment. The Board found that the LSP did not keep that priority to the forefront in coming up with his testing strategy.”

Licensed Site Professionals or “LSPs” are licensed by the Board to oversee the assessment and cleanup of property contaminated with oil, gasoline or hazardous materials. The Board works to protect the public by setting standards for LSP practice, requiring continuing education, investigating complaints against LSPs and determining sanctions.