LAWRENCE (CBS) – One of the big struggles this winter is where to put all this snow. Crews in Lawrence came up with an answer, but now they’re accused of breaking the law.

Lawrence Mayor William Lantigua caught trucks dumping more than 1,000 tons of snow right into the Merrimack River on Sunday night.

WBZ-TV’s Karen Anderson reports.

“Look at the contamination, look at how bad, how dirty it look,” said Mayor Lantigua.

Mayor Lantigua doesn’t like other people dumping their mess in his city.

“Sometimes there are jobs you have to do yourself,” said Mayor Lantigua.

When he saw a parade of snow filled trucks driving around his city, he began staking them out.

Read: Why can’t crews dump snow into bodies of water?

“And I follow from a distance. They didn’t get to see me, but I could still see them,” said Mayor Lantigua.

Finally, at midnight Monday morning, the mayor caught the trucks driving into a Lawrence parking lot and dumping loads of snow right into the Merrimack River.

“To be honest with you, I was scared last night here at 1 o’clock. Just me, the truck drivers, whoever was doing the dumping. I thought about things I see on tv and said I better get out of here and get the police,” said Mayor Lantigua.

Police Chief John Romero says the snow came from a CVS parking lot in North Andover, and the drivers dumped 42 truck loads of snow Sunday night into the Merrimack, which is a state and federal crime.

“The mayor is the one who broke this case,” said Chief Romero. “We don’t dump snow in the city. We don’t want anybody else coming into the city to do it.”

“Just look at it and tell me if that looks like frozen water. There’s a lot of contaminants within the snow, all the salt, the antifreeze that comes from cars, the oil, all of that packed in one piece, and it’s going into the river. That’s why there are federal laws that forbid people from doing that,” said Mayor Lantigua.

According to police, a man named Darren Carusso with National Facility Services, admitted to dumping the snow.

State and federal environmental officials are now investigating, and a fine for the crime starts at $5,000.

In response to the illegal snow dumping, the Merrimack River Watershed Council’s Executive Director, Catherine Arning, released the following statement:

“We are pleased that Mayor Lantigua is taking the issue of dumping snow into the Merrimack River so seriously. Many people think “It’s just snow, what is the big deal?” without realizing that it is not just snow. It includes all of the salt and sand spread on the road to make the snow and ice melt faster for safe driving, and it also includes the oils and vehicle fluids that inevitably leak from our cars onto the roads and parking areas. Pollution in any river is a big deal for the fish and other organisms that live in or depend on the river, but it is an especially big deal for rivers like the Merrimack, which is a source of drinking water as well as home to the endangered species, the Shortnose Sturgeon. While this particular dumping site in Lawrence is downstream of drinking water intakes, the Merrimack River Watershed Council has received reports of similar dumping happening further upstream, where contaminants could get into our drinking water here. So, for those who ask why we should not dump snow in the river, our response is “Do you want to drink that dirty snow, or eat the shellfish harvested at the mouth of the river that have absorbed those pollutants into their flesh?”

WBZ-TV’s Karen Anderson contributed to this report.

Comments (32)
  1. tannerjack says:

    I hope they fine them $5,000 for each dumptruck full of snow.

    1. Michael E. Harvey says:

      I hope they fine them $5,000 for each ton of snow.

      1. jack says:

        If you get your wish “YOU” will pay for it. Let there be no mistake about that!!

  2. mark says:

    When all this snow melts it will find its way to rivers and streams. At some point it will ultimately end up in the ocean or the ground water. Be it rain or snow it all ends up in the same place. If the snow is not removed it creates a hazard to all including people that must now walk in the street because the sidewalks are blocked and cars that have reduced visibility at intersections. Anybody have a better solution?

    1. Adam says:

      Snow farms, bring it there

  3. John says:

    Im pretty sure that CVS paid for them to dump it properly , Mark.

    1. mark says:

      I am sure they did and the mayor should charge them for that. We all know the city needs the money

  4. hackwannabe2 says:

    Stupid story. Either it melts and goes into the river or it gets dumped.

    It is funny that mayer Lantiqua catches this! Yet he breaks all the campaign rules!

    Lawrence relies on State money for their Budget while he has his wife, girlfriend ex wife and daughter on the city payroll.

    Too Funny.

    1. Ellen says:

      Not true. Your response only shows that you failed science. When it melts naturally, the water seeps down through the soil which acts as a natural filter. So, no, it won’t just melt into the river.

      1. jack says:

        And what happens to the contaminants when the are placed within 100′ of the water?? I’ll tell you, they go right in!! If you place them further away “you” call the ground “contaninated” and charge us hunderedes of thousands to ship it maine. JERK!!

      2. alleydweller says:

        Except the drains all over the City of Boston marked ‘DRAINS TO BOSTON HARBOR”….is that somehow getting filtered?

  5. jack says:

    Get a life, SALT. IT came from the ocean….

  6. john says:

    Typical politician. Quick to point the finger but never dawns on him to work on an actual solution. The snow piles are already dangerous and there’s another foot and a half on the way. Big hero. How much more snow has to fall before they declare drastic measures such as river dumping temporarily legal? How many more people have to get in auto accidents because they couldn’t see around the snow bank?
    Come up with an answer and lead, you know, like a leader?
    We already have enough sneaky tattle tales.

    1. Adam says:

      We have enough baseball, football, and soccer fields that are not being used in the winter. North Andover has a large field close to the Merrimack. Dump all the snow there. It will all eventually melt.

  7. Tom McShane says:

    Watching the report tonight I was terribly disappointed in WBZ. Your reporter and even Jack Williams sounded like you were condoning the illegal dumping in the Harbor! The young guy interviewed was clearly coached into saying “maybe”. BZ, who usually is decent on important environmental issues fell down on the job this time. Instead of trivializing the harmful water quality impacts, you could have used this as a teaching moment to explain why it is so harmful and reminding people how hard we have all worked to clean up the harbor and its positive impacts for our economy & our recreation it has had to have a clean harbor!

    1. jack says:

      “environmental issues ” THIS IS NOT ONE!!! It is a safety issue for us HUMANS though!

    2. jack says:

      “The young guy interviewed was clearly coached ” Who do you think you are to make a statement like that??????? OH, I KNOW your an ECO TERROIST!!!

  8. Robert says:

    It’s SNOW not TRASH! Get OVER it. Dump the snow in the river it’s cleaner than whats ever already there.

    1. Adam says:

      The snow from the cvs lot was basically trash…its all contaminated. It needs to melt down the drains…unless you want to end up drinking it at some point?????????????????????????

  9. CR Ronzi says:

    The police aren’t wise to this going on?! I find it hard to believe that the mayor could see this going on and no officer patrolling the town ever saw anything. I hope they try a little harder to enforce this very important law now in all the river towns.

  10. jack says:

    ” very important law ” Your pathetic!! Save the tree kill and starve the people…..

    1. eco terrorist says:

      preferably starting with you…

      1. Doug says:

        If we dumped all the snow in New England into the ocean, the ratio of contaminants to clean water would be so incredibly small, you’d break the zero button on your keyboard if you tried to type it out. It is ridiculous that we are not dumping this snow right into the river. Instead, we are killing people by making the roads completely unsafe.

  11. Adam says:

    Free snow removal in Lawrence for the next 3 years courtesy of the CVS snow crew!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  12. blackbear1 says:

    Please, what a dumb story!! These are not the weather conditions to be playing “Green Games” and pretending to save the planet. Getting caught by that Mayor of Lawrence!! Sure.

  13. jack2 says:

    Anyone notice jack has a real bad attitude?

    How do you think the cities and towns that live down stream and get their water form the Merrimack river feel?

  14. Tylerryan says:

    People who think this story is stupid need to rethink their position. Sure dumping snow this one time really isn’t a big deal in the grand scheme of things, it was only a handful of trucks right? There can’t be that much salt and oil etc in there? Now imagine this law didn’t exist, and every single town that borders the river dumps their snow in the river, all private contractors too. It adds up fast. All those parking lots, all those streets, over years and years of dumping will definitely have an impact. If some pollutants ends up in the river naturally through snow melting there’s nothing we can do to stop it (unless we change how we live which isn’t going to happen anytime soon), but we don’t need to speed it up.

  15. Mark says:

    I work for a water treatment facility and I too agree that dumping snow into a river that filters out into the ocean would have close to zero effect on the drinking water downstream, environment, etc… I do have a good chuckle for people who think that the drains in the city filter pollutants… they don’t. Do you want to know what filters your water… the water treatment facility located in every town/district. The only thing that I can think of that could be potential for poluting is if there were huge amounts of trash in the dumping, which I am fairly certain is minimal as to how much snow has fallen within the past two storms which have all been within the past week. Just food for thought, how much gas/oil do you think goes into the reservoirs (where the majority of people receive their water from) from the use of boats and jet skis? My bet is that running a jet ski (from a full tank to completely empty) on a lake would put more pollutants in the water than the entire amount of snow dumping that happened. I also bet that if tests were run on the snow they dumped, the results would have very little salt content and high content in sand as the salt gets washed away and into the drains that in most cases empty into a river or reservoir.

    I personally think that there should be a permit for doing so, but I bet those workers whom were dumping that snow were paying somenone at that site to be dumped there. I say don’t go after the people dumping it, go after the person who is getting paid.

  16. emom says:

    Ok food for thought,, then explain al those pills being flushed down the drain over the years, from various places, private homes, hospitals, nursing homes other medical facilities// Well so many said NO BIG DEAL< it would take a lot to cause issues,,, Well I guess years of doing it has caused a problem. So I beleive dumping the snow over decades with contaminates could possibly create high levels of toxins to show.. But I guess we wil have to wait till our grandchildren grow up to find it …. in the mean time we just destroy what we have. There are much better solutions for dumping the snow, old land fills, there are plenty that are not being used, utilized them. I think that land is already contaminated… RIGHT ISINT IT.

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