Town may sue company over unlawful dumping
Officials allege zoning violations
While an Allenstown company has agreed to pay the state a hefty fine for illegal dumping, the case that started with a police investigation more than two years ago doesn’t appear to be finished just yet.
The pile of construction debris Thibeault Corp. of New England trucked in from Massachusetts still needs to be cleaned up. And the company could be facing more litigation from the town of Allenstown, which has alleged violations of local zoning ordinances.
“We want what we’re entitled to, which is a cleanup and whatever financial penalties are applicable,” said Paul Apple, Allenstown’s town administrator.
Last week the attorney general’s office settled with the Thibeault Corp., owned by Ernest Thibeault III, on more than 20 indictments filed in November 2011. In pleading guilty, the company acknowledged that it trucked loads of construction debris to its locations in Allenstown and Londonderry in 2010 from a facility in Lowell, Mass., according to Senior Assistant Attorney General Lauren Noether.
Court documents show that Massachusetts facility, owned by Ernest Thibeault’s brother William Thibeault, was cited for environmental violations in 2008. Shortly before the trucks arrived in Allenstown, Massachusetts state regulators said excessive debris there had to be properly disposed of, according to allegations in an affidavit.
A lawyer for the Massachusetts company told state regulators that the materials were moved to an authorized landfill, according to the affidavit.
But the waste was taken to Allenstown and Londonderry, an employee of the company told the Allenstown police.
Thibeault Corporation’s controller, Bonnie Culotta, declined to comment on the settlement when contacted by the Monitor on Tuesday.
Department of Environmental Services spokesman James Martin said the company will soon receive a state-approved time line for cleaning up the illegal construction debris. Martin said companies are typically given 30 to 60 days on such cases. The company will not be subjected to regular inspections as part of the settlement, according to Martin.
In Allenstown, Apple said while the debris does not appear to be a health hazard, seeing the site cleaned up is a top priority.
The facility is just steps away from the town’s highway department and next to the Holiday Acres Mobile Home Park.
Apple said the town conducted its own investigation after the attorney general filed charges and found the illegal dumping also violated local zoning ordinances. He said the town is in discussions with its attorney about filing litigation.
“The present select board has made a policy decision that they’re going to ensure that the rules are followed for the benefit of everybody in town,” Apple said. “And that is a positive development, and it’s good news for everybody because we want to make sure that the rules get followed.”
Sharon Cuddy Somers, the town’s attorney, did not return repeated requests for comment from the Monitor on Tuesday and yesterday.
Apple said the town is hopeful the remaining issues can be rectified.
“I think you have two choices in a case like this. You can take the cynical approach or you can take the belief that our neighbors are basically good neighbors. And I would suspect that most people in Allenstown . . . would assume they’re good neighbors and they made a mistake,” Apple said.
As part of the plea deal, the state agreed to consolidate indictments of both illegal transportation and dumping from several dates into four charges – one for each act at the company’s Londonderry and Allenstown locations. The state has also agreed to drop a misdemeanor charge of operating a solid waste facility without a permit filed against Earnest Thibeault.
The company is required to pay $50,000 in fines to the state by Jan. 7, at which time the remaining charges will be dropped. Another $50,000 in fines has been suspended but will be reimposed if the company is found to have any other environmental violations in the next seven years.
Each of the more than 20 indictments originally filed against the company carried a maximum fine of $25,000.