Following enforcement actions Attorney General Neronha reaches lead remediation agreements totaling more than $700,000 in value
PROVIDENCE, R.I. – Attorney General Peter F. Neronha announced today that the Office has reached settlement agreements with the owners of four lead contaminated properties located in Providence and Burrillville. The enforcement actions provide for the abatement and remediation of lead contamination at the sites and assess penalties that total more than $700,000 in value.
In all four cases, the Attorney General took action to enforce state lead poisoning prevention laws based upon findings of significant lead hazards and lead poisoning of a child. According to experts, there is no amount of safe lead exposure.
“Instances of lead poisoning in children throughout Rhode Island are absolutely preventable and in these cases, are the consequence of landlords violating clear public safety laws. This happens far too often in Rhode Island, and so our Office remains committed to taking action and holding accountable landlords who have been advised that a child has been lead-poisoned in one of their units and yet refuse to do anything about it,” said Attorney General Neronha. “The disposition of these cases demonstrates the serious legal consequences that landlords face when they refuse to follow the law, despite multiple notifications from the Department of Health, and opportunities for low-cost abatement and remediation. Most of the time, it is neither expensive nor difficult to remediate these dangerous conditions, and this Office will not stop until lead poisoning ceases to harm Rhode Islanders, especially our children. While I am proud of our work in these cases, I know Rhode Island can do better by our children, and I look forward to advocating for stronger legal tools and more resources for lead-poisoning prevention.”
“Safe and healthy housing is a key environmental determinant of health,” said Interim Director of Health Utpala Bandy, MD, MPH. “Lead screenings, referrals for case management, and the identification of lead hazards in homes are all part of a comprehensive approach to minimizing or eliminating lead exposures for children. In collaboration with the Rhode Island Attorney General and other partners statewide, we are working toward our goal of ensuring that all children have the opportunity to grow up healthy and thrive.”
The settlement agreements announced today are the latest in the Attorney General’s efforts to combat lead poisoning in the state. In this legislative session, the Attorney General expects to advocate for stronger lead poisoning and prevention laws, coupled with additional resources for remediation.
Since the fall of 2021, the Attorney General has filed 18 lawsuits against landlords who have failed to fully address serious lead violations on their properties. All of the lawsuits involved properties where significant lead hazards were found and a child was determined to have lead poisoning. As a result of actions by the Office, more than 45 housing units have been remediated following the issuance of intent to sue letters, pre-suit negotiations, and lawsuits.
The four settlements announced today are:
36 Henrietta Street, Providence
Following a lawsuit filed by the Attorney General, the defendant agreed to pay $60,000 for the remediation and abatement of lead hazards throughout the property, including a child’s bedroom, as a well as stairways and exterior soil. The defendant will also pay a $55,000 penalty to the state.
51 Wealth Avenue, Providence
Following a lawsuit filed by the Attorney General, the defendant remediated lead hazards throughout the property where state officials said multiple children were lead poisoned over the past 10 years. In addition to lead remediation, other issues including rat infestations were also mitigated. The defendant will also pay a $60,000 penalty to the state.
49-51 Foster Street, Burrillville
In a pre-lawsuit settlement, the duplex at 49-51 Foster Street, owned by Freddie Mac, valued at approximately $400,000 will be donated to NeighborWorks Blackstone River Valley with a deed restriction that it be used as affordable housing for 99 years. In addition to the donation of the property, Freddie Mac will pay $60,000 to the Office of the Attorney General to continue lead remediation and abatement efforts.
93 Ayrault Street, Providence
In a pre-lawsuit settlement, the defendant will pay an $80,000 penalty to the state for violating state lead poisoning and prevention laws. A new owner of the property will perform full remediation of lead hazards at the property.
Lead prevention resources
There are numerous resources available for landlords and property owners to come into compliance with state lead poisoning and prevention laws. Rhode Island Housing’s LeadSafe Homes Program and Providence’s Lead Safe Providence Program both provide forgivable loans to help make properties lead safe, and Woonsocket’s Lead Hazard Reduction Program coordinates and provides forgivable loans for applicants’ lead hazard reduction projects. Additionally, the RI Residential Lead Abatement Income Tax Credit provides property owners with a tax credit of up to $5,000 per dwelling unit for money spent to correct lead hazards. Additional resources for property owners and renters are available through the Rhode Island Department of Health.