For Immediate Release - July 15, 2010

AG Coakley's Office Sues Owner and Operator of Saugus Property for Wetlands and Solid Waste Violations

BOSTON - Attorney General Martha Coakley's Office filed a lawsuit in Suffolk Superior Court against Helen M. McCarthy, of Boxford, and her son James F. McCarthy, of Laconia, New Hampshire, alleging that they illegally altered and filled protected wetlands and dumped solid waste throughout a large parcel of land in Saugus.

The McCarthys have for at least a decade maintained an illegal dumping ground and permitted ongoing wetlands violations at Pennsylvania Avenue, a property that borders Saugus, Wakefield and Lynnfield, according to the lawsuit. The lawsuit, filed yesterday, seeks a permanent injunction requiring the McCarthys to restore and remediate the site. The lawsuit is also asking the court to impose penalties on the defendants for violating state laws designed to protect the environment.

"Massachusetts solid waste and wetlands protection laws require individuals to obtain permits and to meet specific protective requirements prior to disposing of solid waste or disturbing wetlands," said AG Coakley. "By using their property as an illegal dumping ground for asbestos and other solid waste, we allege that the McCarthys have not only put at risk the health of workers at the property, but have destroyed sensitive wetland habitats."

"Wetland resources, such as those altered in this case, serve the valuable function of preventing flooding," said Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Laurie Burt. "Further, the use of solid waste to fill wetlands, as in this instance, compounded the problem, and showed a blatant disregard for the regulations designed to protect public health and the environment."

The lawsuit against the McCarthys alleges that while operating several businesses at and leasing the site to other businesses for various commercial uses, James F. McCarthy dumped or buried, or allowed others to dump and bury solid waste, including demolition debris, roofing materials, scrap metal and crushed trailers, throughout the property. In doing so, James F. McCarthy allegedly caused or allowed the illegal filling and alteration of the property's wetlands and the unsecured storage of asbestos-containing material.

The complaint further alleges that Helen M. McCarthy, who owns the property, permitted the illegal dumping and wetland alterations to continue. Helen M. McCarthy also allegedly failed to comply with a 2007 MassDEP administrative consent order requiring her to remove the solid waste and to restore the wetlands.

Assistant Attorney General Tracy Triplett of Attorney General Coakley's Environmental Protection Division is handling the case with the assistance of MassDEP attorney Jennifer Davis of the Office of General Counsel, environmental investigator Stephen Spencer of the Massachusetts Environmental Strike Force, and wetlands analyst Heidi Davis.