$7.5M to settle charges by DEP; Wheelabrator still disputes allegations.

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Byline: Donna Boynton

MILLBURY - Wheelabrator Technologies Inc. has agreed to pay $7.5 million to resolve multiple environmental violations at three of its Massachusetts locations, including the facility on Route 20.

The settlement agreement between Wheelabrator, the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection and Attorney General Martha Coakley's office was announced yesterday. Wheelabrator said while it disputes the allegations, it agreed to the settlement to avoid lengthy and costly litigation.

The agreement settles claims that Wheelabrator violated the Clean Water Act, the Hazardous Waste Management Act, and the Wetlands Protection Act for different incidents at Wheelabrator Saugus, Wheelabrator North Andover and Wheelabrator Millbury.

Wheelabrator, headquartered in New Hampshire, released a statement last night saying, "Wheelabrator has worked cooperatively with the (Massachusetts) attorney general's office and DEP during their assessment of our operations in Massachusetts. We have maintained the highest commitment to environmental compliance in Massachusetts over three decades, and we do not concur with the commonwealth's assessment. We have settled this matter to avoid years of costly litigation."

The statement added that the three facilities are in compliance with all permits and regulations and that there was no harm done to the environment or health and safety of the public or its employees.

"As part of Wheelabrator's commitment to continuous improvement, we have thoroughly reviewed our Massachusetts operations and made organizational changes and process improvements to further strengthen our environmental performance," Wheelabrator's statement continued." The company has always been committed to leadership and continuous improvement in environmental compliance, employee health and safety, and customer and community service."

According to the DEP, all three Wheelabrator facilities can process up to 1,500 tons of municipal solid waste per day, and all generate ash that contains contaminants such as led, cadmium and arsenic.

It is alleged by DEP and the attorney general's office that Wheelabrator Millbury and Wheelabrator Saugus violated the Clean Water Act and the Wetlands Protection Act by releasing ash-contaminated water and ash sludge into waterways or wetlands.

A court complaint filed by Ms. Coakley's office...

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