Former Junkyard Operator Indicted for not Reporting Release of Hazardous Materials
Paul Lukashuk, 66, of Paragould, Arkansas, was indicted yesterday for Failing to Notify MassDEP of the Release of Hazardous Materials (1 count) and for Conveying Land on Which Hazardous Waste was Disposed Without Notice of Disposal Being Recorded in the Registry of Deeds (1 count).
Michael Longley, 39, of Lunenburg, was also indicted yesterday on a charge of making a false statement to the MassDEP in connection with its investigation of the contamination on the property owned by Lukashuk.
According to authorities, 1537 Central Street in Leominster and Sterling (33 acres), located along Route 12, was for decades the site of a scrap yard and recycling facility. In 2001, a potential purchaser of the property retained an engineering firm to assess the environmental condition of the property. The engineering firm determined that a four-acre parcel on the Leominster portion of the property was contaminated with PCBs, cadmium and lead. The potential purchaser withdrew from the purchase citing concerns about the contamination and other permitting issues.
Authorities allege that Lukashuk was notified of the report and the contamination on his property, but failed to report it as required by the Massachusetts Oil and Hazardous Material Release and Prevention Act. Authorities further allege that when Lukashuk sold the property to another purchaser in 2005, he did not record a notice at the Registry of Deeds reporting that hazardous waste was disposed of on the property, as required under the state's Hazardous Waste Management Act.
During the course of investigating this matter, Michael Longley, a trucker who stored his trucks and operated a loam screener on Lukushuk's property, made false statements about his activities on the property to the MassDEP. Authorities allege that, in response to a MassDEP formal request for information, Longley provided false information about whether he removed soil from the property. He also failed to provide information about who his employees were during that period.
In April 2009, the property was tested again by a different engineering firm. The results showed that contaminant conditions at the property had been reduced significantly since the events giving rise to these indictments. The report concluded that no further cleanup of the property was necessary.
The charges stem from an investigation by the Massachusetts Environmental Crimes Strike Force (ECSF), an interagency unit that includes prosecutors from the Attorney General's Office, Environmental Police Officers assigned to the Attorney General's Office, and investigators and engineers from the MassDEP. The Massachusetts Environmental Crimes Strike Force (ECSF) is overseen by Attorney General Martha Coakley, MassDEP Commissioner Laurie Burt and Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Ian A. Bowles. The ECSF investigates and prosecutes crimes that harm or threaten the state's water, air, or land and that pose a significant threat to human health.
The indictments were returned yesterday. The defendants will be summonsed for arraignment in Worcester Superior Court at a later date.
Assistant Attorneys General Wendoly Langlois and Andrew Rainer, of Attorney General Coakley's Environmental Crimes Strike Force, are the prosecutors assigned to the case. Investigators from the Worcester Regional Office of MassDEP assisted in the investigation.