December 16. 2015 11:04PM

Thousands sign petition asking EPA to investigate lead in Mill West

Staff Report

MANCHESTER — Public Citizen, Clean Water Action and the New England Regional Council of Carpenters on Wednesday delivered a petition to EPA and state environmental regulators on Wednesday, demanding that Brady Sullivan Properties be held accountable for allegedly exposing residents to high lead dust levels in the Lofts at Mill West complex.

Of the 20,000 people who signed the Internet petition, 200 are from New Hampshire and only a dozen of them are from Manchester. The single largest contingent is from California, and some are from as far away as Buenos Aires, India, Hong Kong and Takarazuka, a city in Japan.

Brady Sullivan is a large developer of residential and commercial property based in Manchester, and Mill West is a commercial, office and residential development at a former mill on McGregor Street.

In an email, Brady Sullivan lawyer Marc Pinard said he first became aware of the email petition Wednesday.

“A cursory review of the document reveals that it was sponsored, at least in part, by the New England Carpenter’s Labor Union whom Brady Sullivan has not hired to work on its construction projects,” Pinard wrote. “Brady Sullivan has been working with the EPA as well as the state and local government on this project to ensure the safety of all of its residents.”

Lawyers representing 13 tenants have sued Brady Sullivan Properties, claiming widespread contamination at Mill West. Tests at 81 apartments revealed 72 had lead levels that exceed national standards. Since then, the lawsuit has grown to 40 tenants seeking monetary damages and no-cost termination of their leases.

The tenants maintain Brady Sullivan claimed the apartments were lead-safe when they were not. The lead-paint disclosure statement the landlord provided prior to renting acknowledged the existence of lead-based paint, but stated “appropriate measures have been taken to make the common areas and the apartment units lead safe in accordance with local, state and federal regulations.”

The lawsuit alleges that Brady Sullivan made ineffective lead decontamination efforts, and left hazardous levels of lead in the units, despite representations to the contrary.

Lawyers for Brady Sullivan argue that the plaintiffs offer no proof that the real estate company acted with knowledge or intent.

The petitioners asked the EPA to audit all properties in the region owned or managed by Brady Sullivan "to ensure that no other New England families are exposed to lead pollution where proper management could prevent the tragic health impacts associated with the dangerous neurotoxin," according to a news release.