Under the law, the state would be allowed to enter a landfill immediately in order to perform remediation work and alleviate conditions causing the public nuisance, if the owner or operator cannot or will not do the work in a timely fashion. The legislators filed the bill in response to the outrageous circumstances at Newburyport’s Crow Lane landfill, which has been a threat to public health and environmental safety for years. In that time, residents have been affected by rotten egg odors and hydrogen sulfide gases emitted from Crow Lane. The landfill operator, the state and the city have been entrenched in a legal battle for more than two years over the conditions at Crow Lane.
“Crow Lane has revealed that we clearly have a flawed process, whereby the operator of the landfill has willingly become engaged in a lengthy legal battle while the residents who are affected by the landfill have been provided little relief,” said Representative Costello. “This legislation would allow the state provide immediate relief and then go to court later to determine how to recover costs.”
Costello and Baddour consulted with officials from the Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) and General Court counsel and staff to write the legislation, which would bring landfill regulations into alignment with those for hazardous waste sites in the state.
“The residents of the Crow Lane neighborhood have suffered long enough”, said Senator Baddour. “The DEP must be given the power to intercede with problematic landfills to protect the health and quality of life for not only the citizens of Newburyport – but throughout the entire Commonwealth.”
“MassDEP is pleased to work with Representative Costello, Senator Baddour, and Mayor Holaday to help develop legislation that will address a gap in our ability to effectively manage problem landfills,” MassDEP Commissioner Laurie Burt said. “We want to protect the citizens of the Commonwealth from unresponsive landfill operators to ensure that other communities will not have their quality of life negatively impacted.”