, Newburyport, MA

Local News

March 30, 2013

Deer butchering leads to fines, resignations

Town well shut down, state issues penalties

ROWLEY – The illegal butchering of deer at one of the town's wells has led the state to shut down the well, impose a $26,000 fine, and resulted in the resignations of the two water department employees who allegedly committed the act.

Jason Masse and Jason Kneeland, primary and secondary operators respectively, were arrested and charged by the Massachusetts Environmental Police Division on Feb. 6 for the illegal possession of untagged deer. According to the DEP consent order, the activities were “both inside and immediately outside of the Well #3 [Boxford Road] pump house and occurring within several feet of the well head. The alleged illegal activities described [in the police report] included butchering and draining the carcasses of untagged deer.”

These actions are in violation of the DEP’s drinking water regulations in such that the town failed to operate and maintain the system in a manner that ensures the delivery of safe drinking water to consumers; and failed to notify MassDEP within two hours of obtaining knowledge of a potential or actual emergency, as this instance would have been.

Town administrator Deborah Eagan reported that the actions of Masse and Kneeland were being investigated on Feb. 7, more than two months after the alleged incident occurred. Selectmen Chairman Bob Snow said that he was under the assumption that DEP knew about the incident since the environmental police had been involved.

It also was reported that water department superintendent John Rezza knew of the incident on Dec. 7, 2012 but did not report it. Neither he nor water Department Manager Laura Hamilton returned a call about this issue.

When asked if Rezza would seek any disciplinary action for not reporting this incident, Snow said he couldn’t comment on that right now, nor would he comment on the details of the actions of Masse and Kneeland, only saying “they no longer work for the town.”

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