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State fines Waltham company $11k for not reporting hazardous material

Posted by Jaclyn Reiss  October 11, 2013 06:50 PM

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A Waltham company owner has been fined $11,000 for keeping mum on finding dangerous levels of hazardous material at its empty Fitchburg industrial site in 2011 while cleaning the property up for development, state officials said.

Owners of Parks Cramer Lofts, LLC, a Waltham-based real estate company, must pay the fine and also submit reports updating state officials on the Fitchburg site's cleanup.

In June 2011, state-certified scientists found high levels of chromium in soil samples collected at the vacant 68 Airport Rd. site in Fitchburg, and reported that to the company. The chromium levels were high enough to pose a public health threat, state officials said.

For such a high level of hazardous material found, the company should have reported their findings to the state the same day. However, they waited 120 days before telling state officials, said Ed Coletta, a spokesman for the Department of Environmental Protection.

"With this type of imminent hazard condition, they were supposed to do it within two hours," Coletta said. "They did report it to us, but not in the timeframe needed for the level of contamination found."

By the time the company reported their findings, they had already begun to clean up the chromium. Further testing found that the levels no longer posed a health risk.

However, the company failed to notify the state and the property's abutters, and did not provide a tangible plan for the site's cleanup, officials said.

"Releases of oil and hazardous materials that could pose an imminent hazard give rise to requirements for notifications that must be made within specific timelines," said Lee Dillard Adams, director of the department's Worcester office, in a statement.

"Furthermore, plans for response actions must be submitted to MassDEP prior to any work being done - to enable the agency to carry out its oversight role and to provide affected and interested public parties with information about the cleanup."

Coletta said the company has a maximum of six years to provide a cleanup plan and execute it. He could not give an update on the status of the site's cleanup.

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Jaclyn Reiss can be reached at jaclyn.reiss@globe.com

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