Andover Townsman, Andover, MA


January 23, 2014

Toxic sludge case a costly lesson

Editor, Townsman:

I read with some interest the news piece about toxic sludge being dumped into the wetland, and the enormous legal and remediation cost for that action (”Toxic sludge case costs top $1.1M, Jan. 16).

The article gave only a cursory accounting of the actual event, but it went something like this: Town employees drained a huge storage tank, it contained some quantities of nasty heavy metals, they then drove the truck to a sewage disposal drain that emptied into the town’s wetlands, and let’er rip.

Well, every sewage grating in this town that empties into the wetlands has a little round metal tag embedded in the asphalt warning you to not dump anything into it. And, ironically, the town uses the Lawrence sewage treatment plant for its sewage line. So if the employees had instead just dumped it into the normal sewage drain system of the town, it would have been automatically cleaned at the Lawrence plant. Sounds like a no-brainer to me: don’t dump nasty stuff into our local wetlands.

Apparently the judge thought so, too, as the award is pretty huge for a minor incident like this ... obviously compounded by the town not acting quickly and effectively during the first cleanup attempt. Have we learned anything from all this foolishness, or are we doomed to see this repeated again? Are there new rules in place for town employees? Inquiring minds want to know.

Rich Michalik

7 Hearthstone Place

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