Stockpile of street sweepings in Hudson leads to ‘notice of non-compliance’

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Photo by/Dakota Antelman
Hudson’s Town Hall is viewed from Pope Hill near downtown. Town officials recently agreed to a consent order with the state after receiving a notice of non-compliance for their disposal of street sweepings.

By Laura Hayes, Contributing Writer

HUDSON — The Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) has issued a notice of non-compliance against the Town of Hudson over what it says were years of improper disposal of street sweeping waste.

In tandem, it’s agreed to an administrative consent order with the town detailing how to bring Hudson into compliance with regulations.

“Specifically, by stockpiling solid waste materials … at the Site, [Hudson] established and maintained a dumping ground at the Site in such a manner as to constitute an open dump,” the order read as it explained the violation. 

The order lists the site as 9-11 Municipal Drive.

Under the order, Hudson will have to remove the sweepings in question within four years. However, MassDEP has suspended a financial penalty against the town unless it violates what is effectively a formal agreement.

Director of Public Works Eric Ryder said during a May 17 Select Board meeting that it’s becoming more difficult to find a location to dispose of sweepings as landfills are closing. The waste is typically used as a covering over trash at landfills, he said.

Discussing this, he also specifically contextualized the state’s action itself.

“They’re usually much stronger in their administrative consent orders, but we’ve been working with them, and they understand the cost associated with this,” Ryder said of the state’s enforcement in this situation.

Ryder typically has an annual sweeping budget of $30,000. He is estimating that it will cost between $300,000 to $400,000 over a number of years to remove the sweepings. 

“They could have come down a lot harder on us after the collection of all these years of not disposing of it,” said Select Board member James Quinn. 

2019 phone call prompts inspection

Ryder said new regulations were implemented on how to dispose of street sweepings in late 2016.

In January 2019, according to this month’s order, an environmental consultant who was representing Hudson called the MassDEP and said that the town was “storing a pile of street sweepings at the Site that had accumulated over a period of approximately twenty years.”

The consultant sought guidance from MassDEP about regulations involving the management of street sweepings. 

When MassDEP completed an inspection, staff reported a “stockpile” of sweepings in one “discrete” area. 

According to the order, Hudson doesn’t have a solid waste permit for the site issued by MassDEP that would allow for long-term accumulation of sweepings.

Ryder said the town submitted a beneficial use determination permit application to be able to use the pile as a berm, which is a raised piece of land. 

According to the order, the berm would have been about 370 feet long and 60 feet wide. 

In March, though, the town told MassDEP that it didn’t want to seek the permit and asked to withdraw its application.

Since 2016, when those aforementioned regulations took effect, Hudson has been disposing of its sweepings within one year of collecting them, Ryder said.

As the state recently still found the town in noncompliance, Ryder added that Hudson has engaged in a number of meetings with DEP.

Hudson views path forward

Under the consent order, Hudson has to remove all of the street sweepings from the site within four years and take them to a landfill. 

Until all of the sweepings have been removed, Hudson has to submit an annual progress report to MassDEP’s solid waste section chief. 

Ryder said he anticipates the sweepings will be removed prior to that four-year deadline.

Town Counsel Aldo Cipriano called this civil penalty “minimal.”

If Hudson violates the consent order or further violates regulations, this agreement stipulates that the town will pay a civil administrative penalty of $6,035. 

Additionally, Hudson would be required to pay a penalty of $1,000 a day for every day that such a violation continues. 

Ryder told the Select Board that he’s been hauling the sweepings to a site in Clinton since 2016 and has since been approved to take them to a Nashua landfill going forward. 

He said the going rate to dispose at a landfill is $25/ton, but added that he was able to obtain his permit to take the sweepings to the Nashua site for $16/ton. 

“From a 10,000-foot view, this is a great view, and this is a job well done,” said Select Board member Fred Lucy.