NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

Local News

August 19, 2013

Groveland will pay for landfill pollution

HAVERHILL — Groveland will pay the city $700,000 for its role in polluting the old Haverhill landfill which closed in 1981.

Haverhill sued Groveland several years ago. The payment, which was approved by Groveland voters earlier this month, is the result of negotiations between the two communities, Mayor James Fiorentini said.

The town will pay $600,000 and its insurance company will pay the other $100,000, Fiorentini said.

”We thank Groveland for working with us on this,” the mayor said. “They were always going to help. Their dispute was with their insurance company over how much it would pay.

”In the end, they paid us a little more than they wanted to and a little less than we wanted, so it’s a good compromise,” he said.

The landfill, which in on Old Groveland Road and borders the Merrimack River and Johnson Creek at the Groveland line, opened in the 1930s. It was used primarily by Haverhill, but also by Groveland for many years. It is one of the last unlined facilities of its kind in Massachusetts that hasn’t been capped yet.

Once the landfill is capped, the city must decide on a reuse plan for the property.

Some people have said they favor building athletic fields or other recreational areas on the land. The mayor has said he is interested in installing solar panels at the site, which would produce electricity the city could use or sell.

Haverhill is already home to a large solar panel “farm” on Hilldale Avenue, just outside Lafayette Square. Dozens of panels on that site collect solar power that feeds into a network to provide electricity to homes.

State and federal regulators have ordered Haverhill and Aggregate Industries of Groveland, which co-owns the 66-acre property, to equally share the $44.6 million cost of capping the landfill.

Haverhill has already incurred almost $9 million in loans and is on the hook for about $13 million more, according to city documents. The city is borrowing the money from a state-subsidized low-interest loan fund, the mayor said.

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