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May 2, 2014

Judge orders new cleanup plan at mill

LAWRENCE — The owner of the former Merrimac Paper mill has until Monday to revise his plan for demolishing the fire-ravaged ruins on the site after state environmental officials rejected his initial plan as “substantially inadequate.”

Superior Court Judge Bonnie MacLeod ordered mill owner David Padellaro to redo the demolition plan he submitted under an earlier court order after the Department of Environmental Protection filed a string of objections to it.

Among them, the agency said, Padellaro’s proposal to dispose of the asbestos that is pervasive in the buildings by burying it on the riverfront property would violate state law.

The agency also objected that the demolition plan “failed to include basic information” about the effort to locate the asbestos and failed to identify the demolition and air quality contractors he has hired.

The DEP also noted that the consultant Padellaro hired to develop the plan for removing asbestos has walked off the job because Padellaro stopped paying him.

Padellaro’s lawyer, James Bowers, said he also has “not been fully retained” by Padellaro and refused to talk with the assistant attorney general representing the DEP, the assistant AG said in a letter to Judge MacLeod asking her to order Padellaro to rewrite the demolition plan.

Earlier cleanups the DEP ordered Padellaro to undertake at the mill complex after other fires in 2010 also went nowhere when Padellaro stopped paying those contractors or paid them with checks that bounced. Padellaro, a former city police officer who was fired for misconduct in 1998, was convicted of larceny in July after bouncing three checks to a contractor he hired to remove oil from tanks at the mill.

“It appears that the parties have reached a deadlock” Assistant Attorney General Tracy Triplett said in her letter to Judge MacLeod seeking the order for the new plan. “Of significant concern to the Commonwealth . . . is that the fire-damaged buildings are not safe and pose a risk of collapse, which would further release asbestos at the property.”

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