Owner of Lawrence Auto Shop Indicted in Connection With Illegally Dumping Oil and Putting Merrimack River at Risk
LAWRENCE – The owner of a Lawrence auto shop has been indicted in connection with illegally dumping over a thousand gallons of hazardous waste oil down a drain that could discharge into the Merrimack River, Attorney General Maura Healey announced today.
Andres Pichardo, age 44, of Lawrence, was indicted on Monday by an Essex County Grand Jury on three counts of disposing of hazardous waste in a manner endangering the environment and without a license from the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP).
Pichardo will be arraigned on the charges in Salem Superior Court at a later date.
“People that illegally dump waste oil in a way that could pollute our rivers will be held accountable,” said AG Healey. “We will continue to work with our state and federal partners to go after those who evade important laws put in place to keep our water clean.”
In February 2016, the AG’s Office began an investigation after the matter was initially referred by the United States Environmental Protection Agency’s Criminal Investigation Division (EPA-CID).
“This case was referred to our Environmental Strike force by EPA’s Criminal Investigation Division, and it is a good example of government agencies working together to protect the environment and the public health,” said MassDEP Commissioner Martin Suuberg. “We will continue our partnerships to identify and appropriately prosecute significant cases that have an adverse impact on the public interest.”
Authorities allege that, in September 2015, rather than pay for proper disposal of his hazardous waste, Pichardo instructed an employee and a contractor to illegally dump more than 30 55-gallon barrels of used automotive waste oil down the drain, which ultimately can discharge to the Merrimack River in wet weather events.
The Massachusetts hazardous waste statute and accompanying regulations require certain licensing and procedures for the proper disposal of waste oil. Under G.L. c. 21C, § 10, it is a felony to improperly dispose of waste oil in a manner that could endanger the environment.
The charges stem from an investigation by the Massachusetts Environmental Strike Force, an interagency unit that is overseen by AG Healey and MassDEP Commissioner Suuberg. The Strike Force comprises prosecutors from the Attorney General’s Office, Environmental Police Officers assigned to the AG’s Office, and investigators and engineers from MassDEP who investigate and prosecute crimes that harm or threaten the state’s water, air, or land and that pose a significant threat to human health.
These charges are allegations and the defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty.
This case is being prosecuted by Assistant Attorneys General Alathea Porter and Bernadette Hayes from AG Healey’s Environmental Crimes Strike Force, with assistance from John Gauthier of EPA-CID, investigator Timothy Dame of MassDEP, detectives with the Environmental Police, and the AG’s Digital Evidence Lab.