NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

Local News

May 22, 2013

Crow Lane woes get new tactic

NEWBURYPORT — Efforts to close the troubled Crow Lane landfill appear to have entered a revitalized phase this week, as municipal leaders and state officials agreed to pursue a new initiative for closure that could involve seeking state funds dedicated to “orphan sites.”

City leaders Monday met with Kenneth Kimmel, commissioner of the state Department of Environmental Protection, and other state officials.

The session represented an attempt to design tactics to force New Ventures Associates LLC, which owns the private landfill, to follow state-mandated procedures to close the site and complete obligations related to environmental safeguards.

It also involved discussions of finding new sources of funding to help pay for closure.

“Commissioner Kimmel shares my frustration at the difficulty in closing out this beast,” said Mayor Donna Holaday yesterday. “But local and state officials are working together on this.”

The landfill was purchased in 2000 by New Ventures with the plan of closing it by heaping tons of demolition debris on top and capping it. Since then, city officials have been working with the state to get to the point of closure.

For years, residents living in proximity of the landfill (located off Low Street) have suffered from episodes of nausea, sinus problems, headaches and itchy, watery eyes due to the odors from debris dumped in the landfill.

Owners of New Ventures, which has declared bankruptcy, did not attend Monday’s session, and have not responded to requests for comment.

One development that has troubled city officials is the diminishing size of a one-time $2.7 million Financial Assurance Mechanism (FAM) fund. This fund was created as a result of a state requirement in the contract with New Ventures that calls for company cash to be put toward the capping and post-closure maintenance.

This fund has diminished to about $90,000, according to state and city leaders.

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