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  • PART I ADMINISTRATION OF THE GOVERNMENT
  • TITLE XVI PUBLIC HEALTH
  • CHAPTER 111F HAZARDOUS SUBSTANCES DISCLOSURE BY EMPLOYERS
  • Section 18 Endangerment of public health or safety; investigation; findings; review

Section 18. (a) A community resident in a city or town in which an employer subject to the provisions of this chapter is located, who has reason to believe that the utilization of a toxic or hazardous substance in the workplace by the employer is or may be endangering public health or safety, may file a petition with the municipal coordinator requesting an investigation. The petition shall state the grounds upon which the resident bases his belief that a toxic or hazardous substance is or may be endangering the public health and safety and shall inform the municipal coordinator of any information or data of which the resident has knowledge and which would assist the municipal coordinator in an investigation.

(b) The municipal coordinator shall within fifteen days review the petition and information submitted by the community resident to determine whether an investigation is warranted, and he may within ten additional days conduct an investigation of the charges contained in the petition pursuant to the authority provided by existing statutes, ordinances, or by-laws. The municipal coordinator shall notify the employer by certified mail, return receipt requested, of the filing of a petition within five days of said filing with the municipal coordinator and shall afford the employer an opportunity to comment on the petition and submit information or data which the employer deems pertinent to the petition.

(c) If upon review of the information and data submitted by the community resident and the employer, the information available under this chapter and the data obtained in the municipal coordinator’s investigation, should he have determined to conduct one pursuant to the provisions of this section, the municipal coordinator determines that action is required to protect the public health and safety, he shall promptly notify the commissioner of DEP of his findings and may take such action or request the commissioner to take such actions as are authorized by statute, ordinance or by-law to protect the public health and safety. If the commissioner is requested to take action by the municipal coordinator pursuant to this section, he may take such actions as are necessary to protect the public health and safety. The commissioner shall also, where appropriate, provide relevant MSDS’s to the petitioning resident provided, however, that the commissioner of DEP determines that said request is not frivolous or intended to harass the employer. The commissioner’s decision on release of the MSDS to the petitioning community resident shall be made within fifteen working days. Simultaneously, the municipal coordinator shall notify the community resident of the determination and shall provide the resident with a summary of the information contained in the petition, the response of the employer, the reasons for the determination, and a statement of the specific actions proposed by local or state officials to alleviate the danger to the public health or safety.

(d) If upon review of the information and data submitted by the community resident and the employer, and the information available through this chapter and the data obtained in the municipal coordinator’s investigation, should he have determined to conduct one pursuant to the provisions of this section, the municipal coordinator determines that no action is required in order to protect the public health and safety, he shall promptly forward to the commissioner of DEP for review, a report of the investigation including a summary of the information or data obtained by the municipal coordinator and the basis for the conclusion that no further action is required in response to the petition. Simultaneously, the municipal coordinator shall notify the community resident of his determination and shall provide the resident with a summary of the information contained or supplied with the petition, the response of the employer, and the reasons for the determination.

(e) If upon review of a petition of a community resident, the municipal coordinator determines that no investigation is necessary, he shall promptly notify the commissioner of DEP of his decision and the reason for the determination. Simultaneously, the municipal coordinator shall notify the petitioning community resident that no investigation will be made and the reasons for this determination.

(f) Any petitioning community resident who believes that the response of the municipal coordinator to the petition does not adequately address the matters contained therein may request in writing within fifteen days of such response that the commissioner of DEP review said response and take such action as the commissioner deems appropriate. The commissioner shall also, where appropriate, provide the relevant MSDS’s to the petitioning resident, provided, however, that the commissioner of DEP determines that said request is not frivolous or intended to harass the employer.

The commissioner shall review the request of the petitioning resident and make a determination thereon within fifteen days of its filing. The commissioner shall promptly notify the employer of the petitioning community resident’s request within five days of its filing, and shall notify said employer of any release of an MSDS at the time of said release.

(g) A community resident or employer aggrieved by an action of the municipal coordinator or the commissioner of DEP may appeal such determinations in the Superior court for the county in which the resident resides or in which the employer’s workplace is located. The determinations shall be reviewed in accordance with the standards for review provided in section fourteen of chapter thirty A.

(h) Except as provided in section nineteen, any municipal official other than the municipal coordinator shall be deemed a community resident and shall have those rights and obligations provided to community residents herein.

(i) Nothing contained herein shall be construed to confer additional or reduce current powers of local public officials under existing laws, ordinances, or by-laws.