For Immediate Release - June 25, 2009

Attorney General Martha Coakley Obtains Preliminary Injunction Against Owner of Contaminated Site in Danvers

BOSTON - Attorney General Martha Coakley obtained a preliminary injunction against the owner of a highly contaminated property located in Danvers. Under the terms of the court order, entered by Judge D. Lloyd MacDonald in Suffolk Superior Court on Tuesday, Nicholas J. Decoulos must allow the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection ("MassDEP") onto the property to ensure that the most contaminated areas are secured with fencing and that signs are posted to notify the public of the potential hazards of coming into contact with the contaminated soil and sediments at the property. The order also requires Decoulos to ensure that the fencing and signage remains in good repair, and to regularly inspect the property and report to MassDEP any trespasser use of the property.

The complaint, filed on June 11, 2009, alleges that Decoulos violated state hazardous waste law by refusing to clean up the soils and sediments at the property, which contain high levels of arsenic and dioxin. The complaint further alleges that Decoulos has violated the law by failing to secure the most dangerous sections of the site and by failing to post signs warning about the hazards at the property. The complaint asserts that this inaction has allowed trespassers to access the property and has put them at risk of exposure to the contamination.

In addition, according to the complaint, Decoulos directed the demolition of a former tannery building at the property, causing a release of asbestos containing material to the air, in violation of the Massachusetts Clean Air Act. The complaint alleges that the asbestos-containing demolition debris from that release remains at the property and has not been remediated, as required by state hazardous waste law.

The property was formerly the site of the Creese and Cook Tannery and is located along the Crane River in Danvers. According to the complaint, current conditions pose an imminent hazard due to the presence of contaminated surface soils in the former landfills, and in a former lagoon and upland fill pile along with contaminated sediment in the Crane River located directly adjacent to the site. The complaint asserts that despite ongoing reports that individuals have been accessing the property for recreational and other purposes, Decoulos has refused to repair fencing and post warning signs around the imminent hazard areas to prevent human exposure to the contamination. Decoulos has also refused to enter into an access agreement with MassDEP to allow its contractors to complete this work, according to an affidavit also filed with the motion for preliminary injunction.

The lawsuit seeks a permanent injunction requiring Decoulos to comply with state hazardous waste law by remediating the site, as well as civil penalties for violation of the Commonwealth's environmental laws.

The Attorney General's Office brought this action on behalf of MassDEP. The complaint seeks to enforce alleged violations under the Massachusetts Oil and Hazardous Material Release Prevention and Response Act and the Massachusetts Clean Air Act.

Assistant Attorney General Tracy Triplett from Attorney General Coakley's Environmental Protection Division is handling this case, with assistance from Maureen Vallatini of MassDEP's Office of General Counsel and MassDEP environmental analyst Christopher Pyott.