, Salem, MA

Local News

September 12, 2012

Salem loses trash case

Judge throws out ruling that allowed for expansion of transfer station


“The primary responsibility of the Board of Health is to protect the public health, and in this case, in our opinion, the Board of Health chose to make health secondary to political desires,” said Goodman, a former health board chairman in Marblehead.

He added: “This was something the mayor wanted.”

Driscoll said the city filed for a minor modification “under the guidance” of the state Department of Environmental Protection, which has been pressuring the city to clean up the site for decades.

“I’m concerned about the decision just because the site is city-owned and it still needs to be cleaned up,” she said. “We are under a consent order from the DEP,” and the estimated cleanup cost is $1.4 million.

“I do know the clock is ticking and the building’s condition is not getting any better,” she said. “We have to come up with a solution to resolve this. We’re just trying to avoid having the taxpayers foot the bill.”

Driscoll said the city will talk with the DEP and review its options.

A Northside Carting official said he expects the decision will be appealed.

“We’re obviously disappointed with the outcome and disagree with the decision,” said Bill Thomson, president of Northside Carting.

Echoing Driscoll, he said his company filed for a minor permit modification after conferring with the DEP, the regulatory agency that oversees this process.

“The judge decided it was a major modification,” he said. “I don’t quite understand that, since the regulatory agency in charge of this called it a minor modification.”

Even if the decision had gone in the city’s favor, this project still had major hurdles to clear. A two-thirds vote of the City Council is needed to sell this nearly 9-acre property.

Driscoll had hoped to sell the land because the city faces potentially large fines for not cleaning up a polluted site, which opened in 1960 as a solid waste incinerator and converted to a transfer station in 1975. Under the agreement, Northside Carting was going to pay for the cost of capping, or covering the ash.

In addition, the trash company had agreed to pay the city nearly $250,000 in annual taxes, a community fee and other payments.

After hearing the case last month, Judge Whitehead issued his ruling Monday.

Tom Dalton can be reached at



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