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Lawrence Mayor Catches Trucks Dumping Snow Into Merrimack River

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Surveillance cameras caught trucks dumping snow into the Merrimack River.

Surveillance cameras caught trucks dumping snow into the Merrimack River.

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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.

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