For Immediate Release - October 16, 2013

MassDEP Completes Environmental Justice Initiative in Ward 1 District of Springfield, $40,000 in Penalties Levied

BOSTON - The Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) today announced that an environmental compliance and enforcement initiative conducted in the Ward 1 area of Springfield has identified a number of environmental noncompliance issues, which resulted in $40,000 in penalties levied against violators, as well as a push to return to compliance.

The initiative was conducted during the last half of 2012 in the neighborhoods of Metro Center, Memorial Square and Brightwood. During the initiative, MassDEP conducting approximately 100 inspections, collected and analyzed Connecticut River water samples, installed an air quality monitor and set up cameras to watch for illegal dumping. As a result, MassDEP issued $40,000 in penalties, identified potential illegal discharge points into the river, uncovered multiple environmental noncompliance issues at several facilities and provided technical assistance to small businesses.  

MassDEP Deputy Commissioner Gary Moran today announced the findings of the Urban Enforcement Initiative during a meeting with municipal and community partners hosted by the New North Citizen's Council, Inc. (NNCC) at their facility on Main Street.

"This initiative has helped MassDEP to develop effective strategies to strengthen community partnerships, successfully implement the Commonwealth's Environmental Justice Policy and bring sites back into compliance," said Deputy Commissioner Moran. "We are meeting our goals of focused outreach and enforcement to improve the quality of life in a targeted, community-centered effort."  

Deputy Commissioner Moran joined officials from Springfield Mayor Domenic J. Sarno's Office, Springfield city departments, NNCC Director of Community Development Jose Claudio, and citizens in discussing the initiative today.

"I am very appreciative of the continued partnership we have developed with the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection," said Mayor Sarno. "Their continuing efforts to work with all parties, from the grass roots up, is significantly contributing to an enhanced quality of life for the residents and businesses here in Springfield."

"The community enjoyed the partnership with MassDEP; the professionalism of their staff and the way they approached every inspection, was great," said NNCC's Claudio. "The communication was excellent and most of all, their work was needed in Ward 1. We, the residents of the North End, would like to thank MassDEP for caring for the environmental needs and justice of our community."

The purpose of the initiative was to focus the resources of MassDEP and its partners to address quality-of-life issues related to environmental conditions. The Ward 1 census tract is classified as an environmental justice area. The initiative was launched after meeting with the mayor, municipal department heads, state legislators and civic, neighborhood and business leaders in Ward 1. Regular meetings were held with all community partners to discuss plans, findings and follow-up actions.

Beginning in the summer of 2012 and continuing to the end of the year, MassDEP conducted multiple unannounced inspections within the neighborhoods for vehicle idling; conducted inspections of properties where demolition was occurring to ensure proper asbestos abatement was being implemented; conducted inspections of 72 potential Brownfields properties to help identify areas for re-development; conducted unannounced inspections of 32 registered or permitted facilities impacting residential and commercial neighborhoods, including registered auto body and auto repair shops, transit facilities, hospitals and junkyards; conducted inspections of 14 unregistered facilities; installed an air quality monitor atop the Gerena School to monitor the presence of fine particulate matter in the ambient air; and conducted five rounds of bacteria monitoring from seven locations along the Connecticut River. Many of the inspections were conducted jointly with representatives of the City of Springfield.

The following are the major findings from the initiative:

  • On January 15, 2013, MassDEP issued a $33,718 penalty to Pioneer Valley Refrigerated Warehouse Inc. in Chicopee for failure to notify MassDEP of a release of anhydrous ammonia at the facility that occurred on August 5, 2008 and for failure to respond to a Request for Information to obtain details of that release.
  • On January 2, 2013, MassDEP issued a $9,188 penalty to Hampden Framing Contractors, a construction firm based in Hampden, for the company's failure to notify MassDEP of a spill of diesel fuel that impacted several roadways in Springfield on June 15, 2012 and failure to take measures to clean up the spill. 
  • On September 27, 2012, MassDEP issued an order to Trident Alloys, Inc. of Springfield to address a pile of 55-gallon drums, ash and foundry sand exposed to the elements on their property and causing runoff into a city catch basin
  • MassDEP negotiated the terms of a settlement agreement with Associated Building Wreckers to conduct the demolition of a building on city-owned property. In lieu of collection of the penalty, the violator expended funds to take down the building, which was posing a hazard to the neighborhood.
  • MassDEP identified three locations along the Connecticut River exhibiting high bacteria counts.  MassDEP is requiring further investigation. 
  • Inspections have resulted in correction of multiple noncompliance issues related to hazardous waste and waste oil registration, management and documentation at regulated facilities.  MassDEP provided technical assistance to owners of the facilities and distributed compliance materials in English and in Spanish.
  • Of the 72 Brownfields properties inspected, 18 have been flagged for follow-up inspection and assessment. MassDEP is working closely with city officials to identify funding sources for assessment and cleanup of these parcels to help spur economic development.
  • Collection and evaluation of air quality monitoring data at the Gerena School indicates that levels in the ambient air around the school compare closely to the levels of particulate matter reported at the other monitors in Springfield and has met the National Ambient Air Quality Standards.

MassDEP is responsible for ensuring clean air and water, safe management and recycling of solid and hazardous wastes, timely cleanup of hazardous waste sites and spills, and the preservation of wetlands and coastal resources.