Andover Townsman, Andover, MA

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August 15, 2013

Settlement reached on water-sludge dump

(Continued)

Berberian claims that the pumping out of the tanks by Water Department employees “continued for eight hours on the first and second days of pumping and five hours on the third day.”

In the amended complaint, he says the discharge was done without any permits and violated the federal Clean Water Act, which is why the case is in federal court. Further, the complaint alleges that additional discharges of hazardous materials have gone onto his property as a result of the ongoing construction project at Bancroft School.

The end result of all the discharges, he said, is that heavy metals have contaminated a wide swath of wetland and may in fact have washed further downstream, toward property owned by Phillips Andover Academy, according to the complaint.

Berberian took a video of the dark-colored water as it was coming out of a pipe from the storm drain onto his property. The water appears coffee-colored. The video, which has been posted on Youtube, also shows some black mud in the wetland on his property.

On numerous occasions, Berberian says he asked the town to test the sludge in the bottom of the tanks, but was rejected, according to the complaint. As a result, he conducted his own tests on the material from the wetland on his property and found traces of cadmium, chromium, nickel and lead.

The town’s Conservation Commission did issue an Enforcement Letter to the water division of the Department of Public Works, requiring remediation of the site and a plan to make sure that such discharges never happened again.

According to the suit, a partial cleanup was attempted, but was inadequate and didn’t take away enough of the harmful material.

“Dark-colored sediment was deposited in patches ... along the ... stream and ... vegetated wetland, for several hundred feet ... onto the landowner’s property, and possibly onto property owned by Phillips Academy,” the lawsuit says.

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