Rhode Island Attorney General Peter F. Neronha announced last week that his office has charged a Massachusetts-based construction firm and a former employee with illegally dumping thousands of tons …
Rhode Island Attorney General Peter F. Neronha announced last week that his office has charged a Massachusetts-based construction firm and a former employee with illegally dumping thousands of tons of contaminated fill at project sites in Providence during the construction of the Route 6/10 Interchange construction project, according to a press release from his office.
The charges, announced Jan. 18, were filed in Providence County Superior Court, and stem from an investigation led by the Neronha’s office, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Rhode Island, the federal Department of Transportation, Office of Inspector General, Department of Labor, Office of Inspector General, and the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM).
The Attorney General has charged Barletta Heavy Division, Inc. (Barletta), with two counts of illegal disposal of solid waste, one count of operating a solid waste management facility without a license, and one count of providing a false document to a public official, according to Neronha’s office.
Barletta is a Canton, Massachusetts based construction firm, overseeing the ongoing $247 million Route 6/10 Interchange highway construction project that began in 2018.
The state has also charged Dennis Ferreira, 62, of Holliston, Mass., a former senior employee of Barletta, with two counts of illegal disposal of solid waste, one count of operating a solid waste management facility without a license, and one count of providing a false document to a public official, according to prosecutors.
The defendants are scheduled to be arraigned on Feb. 1, in Providence County Superior Court. Ferreira and a representative in a position of authority from Barletta will be in court for arraignment, according to Neronha’s office.
“As alleged in the Information, Mr. Ferreira and Barletta used the 6/10 site as an environmental dumping ground, and not only for Rhode Island waste,” Neronha said. “Worse yet, they made Rhode Island a dumping ground for Massachusetts waste. Their actions come at the expense of Rhode Islander’s public health and their environment. Rhode Island’s environmental and public health laws exist for a reason. To keep Rhode Islanders safe, and to preserve our environment. We will continue to aggressively enforce those laws. Because Rhode Islanders deserve nothing less.”
The AG’s office alleges that in July 2020, the defendants authorized the disposal of more than 4,500 tons of stone and soil contaminated with hazardous materials at the Route 6/10 Interchange construction project.
In 2020, Ferreira was the Superintendent of the Route 6/10 Interchange construction project and as alleged in the information, possessed broad authority over the project, including the acquisition of material to be used on site, according to Neronha’s press release.
“As alleged in the information, Barletta is required to analyze any fill brought to the 6/10 project site for contaminants and must certify any fill be suitable for use at the site,” according to the press release. “It is alleged that the defendants sourced known contaminated fill from the site of the Pawtucket/Central Falls Commuter Rail Station on the border of Pawtucket and Central Falls, and from a Barletta materials stockpile in the Jamaica Plain neighborhood of Boston, Mass. The site of the Pawtucket/Central Falls Commuter Rail Station has been used as a rail yard for nearly 150 years and the presence of soil contaminants, including arsenic and PAH’s, have been previously confirmed. At the Jamaica Plain site, Barletta stockpiled contaminated stone generated from railbed replacement work they conducted on the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) B and C Green lines.”
The prosecution also alleges the “defendants authorized the transport of approximately 1,114 tons of contaminated soil from the Pawtucket/Central Falls site and approximately 3,460 tons of contaminated stone from the Jamaica Plain site to the 6/10 project site.”
According to prosecutors, in late July 2020, state DEM and Department of Transportation (DOT) officials asked Ferreira for an environmental certification for the transported stone, and he provided an environmental testing report with analysis from another site, to hide the fact that the 6/10 site stone was contaminated.
Separately, on Dec. 14, 2022, Ferreira pleaded guilty in federal court to three counts of making a false statement in connection with a federally funded highway project, according to Neronha’s office.
Ferreira is scheduled to be sentenced on March 16. U.S. Attorney Zachary Cunha recently announced Barletta has agreed to pay a total of $1.5 million to the federal government.
Assistant Attorneys General John Moreira and Peter Roklan, and Sheila Paquette of DEM, will handle the prosecution of this case.
Neronha thanked Cunha, the federal DOT, Office of Inspector General and Department of Labor “for their partnership in the overall investigation of this matter.”
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