Mass. AG files lawsuit, seeks cleanup of property

Bryan Cohen Dec. 27, 2011, 10:18am


BOSTON (Legal Newsline) - Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley announced a lawsuit on Thursday against an Osterville man and his businesses for allegedly failing to complete the assessment and cleanup of a contaminated property.

Frank M. Ward and his businesses, Dunhill Place Associates LLC and Seaview Associates LLC, allegedly failed to complete the required assessment and cleanup of an Osterville property in a timely fashion in violation of state environmental law.

Coakley's lawsuit seeks a civil penalty of as much as $50,000 per day for each violation of the Massachusetts Contingency Plan and the Massachusetts Oil and Hazardous Material Release Prevention and Response Act.

"The purchase and redevelopment of contaminated properties promotes economic growth and revitalizes communities," Coakley said. "But developers and property owners must comply with Massachusetts laws to ensure that those properties present no significant risk to the public, neighboring property owners, and the environment."

Coakley's lawsuit alleges that Ward helped his son and his son's business partner purchase the already contaminated property in 1998 and 1999. After the property was redeveloped into a new gasoline station and two commercial buildings in 2000, Ward's son and business partner transferred the property to Ward's company, Dunhill Place Associates, in 2004. Ward transferred the property again to Seaview Associates in 2007.

The lawsuit alleges that Ward and his businesses failed to complete the required assessment and cleanup for approximately six years. The Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection issued an order to Ward requiring that work be completed by August 2007. Ward also allegedly failed to provide accurate information as to the owner of the property.

Ward allegedly chose not to comply with MassDEP's order, in violation of the order and state law. Ward also allegedly failed to submit a "Response Action Outcome Statement" by the required date. The statement is the name for the report demonstrating that the property no longer poses any significant risk to public safety, health and the environment. Ward also allegedly violated state law by falsely certifying that one of his businesses still owned the property when he had actually transferred it to another one of his businesses, preventing MassDEP's ability to ensure compliance at the property.

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