Coakley settles with highway maintenance company
BOSTON (Legal Newsline) - Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley announced a settlement on Thursday with a Burlington, Mass., highway maintenance company that allegedly dumped solid waste illegally.
Gillis Brothers Inc. allegedly filled wetlands and dumped solid waste material that it removed from state highway catch basins, violating the Solid Waste and False Claims Act. Under the terms of the settlement, Gillis will restore the damaged wetlands, pay $37,500 in civil penalties and contribute $12,500 to the Mystic River Watershed Association for the construction of a rain garden at the Beebe School in Malden, Mass.
"Anyone who contracts with state or local government for services must fully comply with the terms of the contract, especially those provisions that are included for the protection of the public health and environment," Coakley said.
According to the complaint, Gillis entered into a contract with the Massachusetts Highway Department to clean catch basins at various locations. The contract required the disposal of the catch basin cleanings in accordance with the policies, regulations and guidance of the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection and to notify the MHD of the location of the approved dumpsites. Despite the explicit requirements in the contract that the material be disposed of in accordance with state environmental laws, Gillis allegedly disposed of the cleanings at its property in Burlington and at private property in Pittsfield, Mass.
Gillis allegedly stored large piles of screened and unscreened street sweepings at the property in Burlington without a site assignment from the Burlington Board of Health or a solid waste facility permit from MassDEP to operate the site as either a temporary solid waste storage facility or a transfer station. In addition, Gillis allegedly dumped approximately three tons of catch basin cleanings on private property in Pittsfield. Gillis allegedly filled and altered approximately 2,000 square feet of bordering vegetated wetlands on the Burlington property with rocks, gravel and sand.
The $37,500 in civil penalties includes a $10,000 penalty for the alleged violation of the False Claims Act by improperly disposing of the catch basin cleanings despite the terms of the contract with MHD. It also includes a $12,500 penalty for the alleged violation of the Wetlands Protection Act and the Solid Waste Disposal Act and a $15,000 penalty that will be waived provided the defendant complies with all terms of the judgment.