Final resolution reached over Mass. landfill

Nick Rees Mar. 15, 2010, 4:12pm


BOSTON (Legal Newsline) - The final resolution of two enforcement cases brought in 1976 and 1985 to close and cap a demolition debris landfill in Middleton, Mass., has been announced by state Attorney General Martha Coakley.

"We are pleased that the Commonwealth has reached a resolution and eliminated a dangerous, public environmental nuisance in Middleton by closing this illegal landfill," Coakley said.

"The resolution also provides resources to help some communities start to break the cycle of historic environmental degradation. The EEA-approved grants for community gardens and parks should greatly benefit the host communities."

The Middleton landfill was owned for many years by Peter Rubchinuk, who is now deceased. MassDEP's predecessor agency approved the site only for sanitary landfilling, though Rubchinuk and other involved family members allegedly accepted all many of building demolition debris, old tires, derelict cars and boats, old rail cars, some hazardous materials and many other forms of solid waste.

A tire fire broke out at the landfill in 1975 that required emergency assistance from the Army Corps of Engineers to extinguish. A suit was brought by the Attorney General's Office in 1976, seeking to close the landfill. A second suit was brought against Rubchinuk's son and other family members involved in landfill operations in 1985.

A final judgment was entered in 1989 against Peter Rubchinuk, which appointed Michael Leon as receiver to cap and close the landfill. The judgment also required Rubchinuk to cooperate in all respects with the closure. A similar final judgment was issued in 1991 in the second case.

The closure of the landfill took a number of years. During that time, the receiver took steps to compensate Middleton and nearby residents for the closure work's impact.

Approximately $747,000 in excess receivership funds will be distributed by the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs under an arrangement approved by Suffolk Superior Court Judge Geraldine Hines.

The funds will be distributed through a competitive process to qualified municipal and non-profit applicants. These funds will be applied to the construction of community gardens and neighborhood parks in communities that have suffered disproportionate environmental degradation with a goal of restoring properties to beneficial community uses.

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