Owner of Pocasset Mobile Home Park Ordered to Pay $250,000 Civil Penalty and More Than $2.7 Million to Construct New Sewage Treatment System
BOSTON – The owner of the Pocasset Mobile Home Park in Bourne has been ordered to pay a $250,000 civil penalty and transfer more than $2.7 million to fund the construction of a new sewage collection system and wastewater treatment facility after failing to upgrade the deteriorating septic system, according to Attorney General Martha Coakley.
“The park owner’s refusal to comply with the terms of the court's preliminary injunction put the health of the residents and the environment at risk,” Attorney General Martha Coakley said. ”We are very pleased with the court’s decision to order him to pay $250,000 in civil penalties and more than $2 million for the construction of a new sewage treatment system. This is long overdue, and we are proud that the residents and the neighboring community will finally see a resolution to what has been an extremely stressful situation.”
“This Court Order reflects the seriousness of the violations, and demonstrates the ability of this agency to respond to citizen concerns,” said Martin Suuberg, acting regional director of the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection’s (MassDEP) Southeast Regional Office in Lakeville. “After a long investigation by MassDEP, and a lengthy court wrangle, the citizens of the Pocasset Mobile Home Park can know their voices were heard.”
As a result of owner Charles W. Austin’s failure to comply with court orders, there have been repeated sewage overflows from the septic system on the property and to the yards of nearby residents, putting their health and safety at risk of exposure to untreated sewage. Since February 2011, the Pocasset Mobile Home Park has been operated and managed by a court-appointed receiver because Austin refused to pump and maintain the septic system.
After a request by the AG’s Office in June, the court entered a final judgment earlier this month, ordering the receiver to construct the new sewage treatment system. Austin was ordered to pay a $250,000 civil penalty and fund $2,767,883 for the construction. The AG’s Office brought this action on behalf of the MassDEP.
Last August, the court issued an order, entered by Judge Bonnie MacLeod, that found the Charles W. Austin Trust, which holds the title to the property, and Pocasset Mobile Home Park, LLC, which operates the manufactured housing community, liable for violating the Massachusetts Clean Waters Act and the Consumer Protection Act by failing to pump and maintain the septic system, despite being issued a permit by MassDEP in May 2007 that required the upgrade.
In addition to entering the final judgment, the court also adopted the AG’s findings of fact filed in June 2012. The court specifically found the following facts:
- Austin knew that the septic system was in non-compliance with current law and instructed his employees and contractors not to move forward with the investigation and repair of various sections of the septic system’s collection system and piping.
- The operation of the existing septic system in violation of MassDEP’s Permit requirement to construct a new sewage treatment system has endangered-and continues to endanger-the health and welfare of the residents of the Pocasset Mobile Home Park.
- The overflows in the residential areas of the Park have been ongoing as a result of clogging and deterioration of pipes.
- The septic tanks are grossly undersized for the wastewater flows produced at the mobile home park.
- Inadequately treated sewage contains organisms that can carry waterborne diseases and can be transferred upon physical contact with sewage.
- The Defendants have received substantial economic benefit by having avoided paying the annual operating cost of the new sewage treatment system for each year that they have failed to comply with MassDEP’s Permit requirement to build the new system.
Assistant Attorney General Tracy Triplett from Attorney General Coakley’s Environmental Protection Division is handling this case, with assistance from Shaun Walsh of MassDEP’s Office of General Counsel and MassDEP engineers Brian Dudley and Christos Dimisioris. The Bourne Board of Health has also provided valuable assistance in investigating the case.