For Immediate Release - July 26, 2012

Osterville Company Settles Allegations it Failed to Cleanup Contaminated Property

Company Assessed $150,000 for Violating Massachusetts Hazardous Waste Cleanup Law

BOSTON — An Osterville company will pay up to $150,000 to settle allegations that it failed to complete the assessment and cleanup of a contaminated property in Osterville, Attorney General Martha Coakley announced today. 

The consent judgment entered by Judge Paul E. Troy in Suffolk Superior Court requires Seaview Associates, LLC (Seaview Associates), to pay up to $80,000 in civil penalties to resolve allegations that it failed to timely assess and cleanup a contaminated property in Osterville. The consent judgment further requires the company to complete the assessment and cleanup work required by state law. Provided the cleanup work is completed in a timely manner, $35,000 of the civil penalty will be waived. 

The defendant will also complete a $70,000 supplemental environmental project that will fund the establishment of Barnstable County Department of Health and Environment’s (BCDHE) first-of-a-kind Residential Underground Storage Tank Removal and Replacement Revolving Loan Program. The program will provide low interest loans to qualified homeowners in Barnstable County to assist them with the removal of aging underground fuel oil storage tanks before they leak.

“Our office strongly supports the purchase and redevelopment of contaminated properties but developers must follow through with their responsibility to ensure that their property does not pose a risk to the public, neighboring property owners or the environment,” AG Coakley said. “In addition to ensuring compliance, this settlement provides a much needed mechanism to help lower income homeowners remove old fuel oil tanks before they create financial and environmental nightmares.”

“MassDEP will continue to pursue any entity that fails to meet their legal requirements to assess and cleanup spills of oil and hazardous materials,” said Commissioner Kenneth Kimmell, of the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP). “Individuals failing to meet those obligations place their surrounding communities at risk and the Commonwealth will act to safeguard the health of residents and the environment.”  

The AG’s lawsuit, filed in December 2011, alleged that the manager for both Dunhill Place Associates, Ltd. (Dunhill Place), and Seaview Associates, helped his son and his son’s business partner purchase the already contaminated Osterville property in 1998 and 1999. The property and the underlying groundwater were contaminated by gasoline that leaked from the underground storage tanks associated with the former gas station. The property was later redeveloped into a new gas station and two commercial buildings in 2000. In 2004, the manager’s son and his business partner transferred the entire property to Dunhill Place. The property was then transferred again to Seaview Associates, a successor to Dunhill Place, in 2007. 

The complaint alleges that Seaview Associates, Dunhill Place, and the sole manager of both businesses violated state law by failing to timely assess and cleanup the contaminated property for more than six years. According to the complaint, the defendants ignored an order issued by MassDEP that required them to complete the assessment and cleanup work at the property by August 2007. 

Barnstable County’s creation of the Residential Underground Storage Tank Removal and Replacement Revolving Loan Program is expected to address a need that previously could not be addressed due to a lack of funding. BCDHE estimates that there are approximately 200 underground fuel oil tanks at residential properties that could leak oil and contaminate groundwater because of their age.

The program is modeled after  the successful state-funded Community Septic Management Loan Program. Qualifying homeowners will receive loans for the removal of old underground fuel tanks. By doing so, the AG’s Office, MassDEP and BCDHE hope to help homeowners prevent costly and environmentally damaging spills before they occur. For more information on the Local Program, please contact Amy Wallace at (508) 375-6908 or awallace@barnstablecounty.org.

The case was handled by Assistant Attorney General Seth Schofield of Attorney General Coakley’s Environmental Protection Division, with assistance from Monique Cascarano of Attorney General Coakley’s Civil Investigations Division, as well as Acting Chief Regional Counsel Rebecca Tobin and Environmental Analyst John Handrahan of MassDEP’s Southeast Regional Office in Lakeville.

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