For Immediate Release - April 02, 2010

AG Martha Coakley and MassDEP Obtain Court Order Granting State Immediate Access to Cap Crow Lane Landfill

February Wind Storm That Caused Landfill Damage to be Repaired by MassDEP

BOSTON - Today, Attorney General Martha Coakley's Office obtained a court order allowing the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) and its contractors immediate access to repair storm damage caused by a February wind storm and to cap the Crow Lane Landfill, located in Newburyport. The court also found New Ventures LLC, the landfill's owner, in default of the trust agreement for the landfill's performance bond and authorized MassDEP to direct and control the use of the bond funds to complete repair work at the landfill.

Judge John C. Cratsley granted the order following a hearing on March 29, 2010 . The order also specifically states that any effort by the defendant to deny MassDEP access to the landfill to repair the storm damage will be considered contempt of court. The Judge also ordered that New Ventures LLC, give a full and complete accounting of cost estimates for all remaining landfill closure and post-closure tasks.

"Our office and MassDEP have worked for several years to address the problems at the Crow Lane landfill and this decision by Judge Cratsley is a significant victory for the Newburyport community," said Attorney General Coakley. "Residents living near the landfill have had to live with this ordeal for far too long and we are pleased that MassDEP will be able to immediately start repair work at the landfill."

"The Superior Court has granted the residents of Newburyport a hard-won victory by allowing MassDEP to access and address the public health hazards that exist at Crow Lane landfill," said MassDEP Commissioner Laurie Burt. "MassDEP will now aggressively exercise its authority to make the necessary repairs that have been neglected by the landfill operator so that we can mitigate any hazards and protect the health of the nearby residents."

In late February, strong winds blew off part of the landfill's cap and caused the failure of three landfill gas wells. The motion filed in court alleges that New Ventures has failed to fix the storm damage. The Attorney General's Office argued that if the damaged and opened cap of the landfill is not repaired, the risk of noxious landfill gas and leachate releases will increase and threaten the health and welfare of the community.

In April 2009, a consent judgment was entered in Suffolk Superior Court ordering New Ventures to finish capping the landfill by the end of November 2009, and to finish all remaining landfill closure work by the summer of 2010. The consent judgment resolved a lawsuit brought by the Attorney General's Office in 2006 against New Ventures for violating MassDEP enforcement orders, resulting in the release of noxious hydrogen sulfide gas.

The case is being handled by Assistant Attorney General Matthew Ireland of Attorney General Martha Coakley's Environmental Protection Division, with assistance from paralegal Jennifer Venezia, MassDEP attorney Michael Dingle, MassDEP Northeast Regional Office Solid Waste Division Chief John Carrigan, MassDEP Northeast Deputy Regional Director Waste Enforcement Coordinator Susan Ruch, and MassDEP Northeast Regional Office Director Richard Chalpin.