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EPA Seeks Penalties from State of Massachusetts for Hazardous Waste Violations in Lawrence

Release Date: 07/15/04
Contact Information: Contact: Peyton Fleming, EPA Press Office (617-918-1008)

For Immediate Release: July 15, 2004; Release # 04-07-11

BOSTON – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is seeking penalties totaling $55,000 from the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) for violating environmental laws regarding the handling and disposal of hazardous waste materials.

In a complaint filed June 30, EPA’s New England Office alleges that the state violated the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) by failing to conduct adequate hazardous waste determinations and failing to send hazardous waste to an authorized facility. The violations took place in summer 2002.

According to EPA’s complaint, the Division of State Parks and Recreation, a part of the Department of Conservation and Recreation, failed to determine that soils excavated from Pemberton Park in the Lawrence Heritage State Park were hazardous waste. The complaint alleges that 619 tons of hazardous waste contaminated with cadmium (comprising 18 truckloads of soil) were taken from Pemberton Park to Torromeo Industries, a disposal site in Kingston, NH that is not licensed to accept hazardous waste.

“DCR’s improper handling of this contaminated material put the public at risk,” said Robert W. Varney, regional administrator of EPA’s New England Office. “This proposed penalty should serve as a warning that businesses and public agencies alike must follow federal laws in handling and disposing hazardous waste.”

In addition to the proposed penalty, EPA ordered DCR to comply with federal hazardous waste laws and correct all violations cited in the complaint. DCR will be required to submit documentation demonstrating it has complied.

DCR was conducting site restoration projects at the park when the violations occurred. It had hired D&D Enterprises as its contractor for all activities requiring soil excavation. In August 2002, D&D told DCR it had discovered “various colored clumps of material” in the 619 tons of soil excavated at Pemberton Park. The contractor requested that a licensed site professional determine if the material was hazardous. Later that month, a licensed professional visually determined the material represented “nothing of consequence” and no analyses were conducted.

DCR then told D&D to take the soil to the Kingston, NH facility, which was not aware it was receiving hazardous waste. The waste, placed directly onto bare soil, was disposed of about 100 feet from a wetland. Soon after, D&D excavated more soil at the same park and did its own tests on the soil, learning that it contained levels above the hazardous waste threshold for cadmium.

Ultimately, DCR had to remove 679 tons of soil from the Torromeo facility and take it to a permitted hazardous waste facility. This included the original soil, plus another 60 tons that were directly under and around it.

Related Information:

Landfills and Land Disposal