December 9, 2016
Ward 1 Councilor Jon Turco said he sees uncovered debris at the site of 143 Lynnfield St. in Peabody.
By LEAH DEARBORN
PEABODY — The City Council voted Thursday night to take a stand against possible illegal dumping at a property where the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection found hazardous waste in March.
The council voted at a meeting to block the entrance to the property at 143 Lynnfield St. with a barricade, which Ward 1 Councilor Jon Turco said will likely be erected as soon as Monday.
A second motion was made to hold a Public Safety Meeting on Jan. 5 with city department heads present.
The issue was brought to the council’s attention by Turco, who said he first noticed dumping at the property in February 2016.
Turco said he saw two men pushing 55-gallon drums onto the property. The councilor said he was told at the time that the substance was sewer waste from a water tank in Braintree.
After the incident, Turco contacted the Peabody Fire Department to alert them to the dumping but said he now wishes he had gone directly to the police to file a criminal complaint.
Instead, state officials got involved and a joint investigation by the city and state found hazardous waste, solid waste, asbestos waste and wetlands violations at the property, said Edmund Coletta, a record response coordinator for MassDEP.
Sharon Cameron, director of Health and Human Services in the city, found evidence of continued dumping months later during a June visit to Lynnfield Street that was outlined in an email to city officials.
City administration was ordered by the state to withdraw from the case shortly after the initial investigation to avoid interference.
Coletta said the owners of the property have appealed all violations found against them to MassDEP and the case is now on hold with an appeal hearing scheduled for Dec. 29.
Attempts to reach property owner Kevin Hoag/143 Lynnfield St. LLC on Friday were unsuccessful.
“I do believe anything they dump might be hazardous because we don’t know what it is,” Turco said about the activity at the site. “I do believe they continue to dump materials that should be tested.”
Turco said he checks on the site regularly from his home on Lynnfield Street. He said he saw uncovered piles of debris and an excavator shortly before Thursday’s meeting.
“That whole area was once finishing,” said Councilor-at-Large David C. Gravel in reference to the tanneries that once operated near the site and left their own pollution behind.
“The stench used to be horrible,” Gravel said. “There’s nothing pretty about the leather industry, it’s why it’s not around anymore.”
Leah Dearborn can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.