EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

October 22, 2012

Lawrence fixing 16 violations at city garage

By Keith Eddings keddings@eagletribune.com
The Eagle-Tribune

---- — LAWRENCE — A mountain of street sweepings and other filth stored in an open yard beside a storm drain at the city garage will be gone by Wednesday, a week before the Nov. 1 deadline the state set for the city to contain the mess or haul it away, according to acting Public Works Commissioner John Isensee.

The last of the sprawling, windblown 10-foot pile of waste will be hauled off to landfills and other disposal sites at a cost of about $20,000, fixing one of 16 violations state environmental officials found at the dilapidated public works yard during inspection last month that was triggered by complaints about conditions. A few of the violations overlapped.

The Department of Environmental Protection also ordered Isensee to better identify what’s in thousands of rusting cans of paints, solvents, oils and cleaners stored in open sheds at the Auburn Street yard, and to have his staff inspect the storage areas at least weekly to check for leaks and deterioration.

The agency also ordered Isensee to ship out recyclables within three months of receiving them and to better record where the waste goes when recyclers haul it away.

The DEP requires agencies that ship recycled waste to keep records of the shipments for three years. Many of those records were missing during the state inspection at the Lawrence city yard on Aug. 9.

The DEP also ordered Isensee to identify the “unknown contents” of three, 55-gallon drums stored behind a salt shed and then properly dispose of the liquids, to fix a leaking nozzle on gas pump that supplies city vehicles and to install a berm between the yard and the Spicket River, which runs directly behind the yard.

On Oct. 2, the DEP ordered the city to correct the violations within 30 days or face daily fines.

“We’ve rectified everything we’ve been ordered to rectify,” Isensee said yesterday, although he said many of the cleanups are still in progress. He said 90 percent of the cans of paints and other chemicals stored in tilting stacks atop dozens of pallets in the open bays have been shipped off at a cost of about $10,000. He said another $2,000 will be needed to finish the job.

Two of the 55-gallon drums were found to contain only “plain dirty water,” Isensee said. The contents of the third still is undetermined.

Isensee said DEP inspectors told him they find environmental violations at every municipal garage they inspect.

A DEP spokesman could not be reached to assess how conditions at the Lawrence yard compare to those found at other municipal garages in Massachusetts.

“We fully intend to comply and have been complying with everything they requested without hesitation,” Isensee said Friday. “We’ve been in constant contact with the DEP to ensure we follow whatever they desire.”

The DEP inspection was first comprehensive inspection in many years at the Lawrence public works garage, a 100-year-old complex of two-story red brick buildings that once included stables for the horses that pulled city vehicles. Today, the complex is so run down that entire 15,000-square-foot corner of it has been condemned and boarded up.