Environmental lawsuit against Marion dropped

Jul 11, 2019

MARION — The Buzzards Bay Coalition dropped its suit against Marion on July 11 after a state environmental group required them to line the two sewer lagoons that the it was looking to have lined. 

The Buzzards Bay Coalition had opened the case in 2017 because the town did not intend to line two of its sewer lagoons, which were still leaching untreated sewage into Marion’s waterways. 

Marion needs a permit to be able to discharge water from its Wastewater Treatment plant. The Environmental Protection Agency had originally said that getting the permit would require the town lining all three of its wastewater treatment lagoons.

However, when town administrators expressed concern about passing the $20 million cost for three linings on to sewer ratepayers, the Environmental Protection Agency changed the conditions to only require lining on one lagoon. It was at this point that the Coalition filed the lawsuit. 

Recently, the state Department of Environmental Protection informed the town that it would require the other two lagoons to be lined as well. The Buzzards Bay Coalition then dropped the suit against the town, since its objective to get the other two lagoons lined had been achieved. 

Buzzards Bay Coalition President Mark Rasmussen said that the Buzzards Bay Coalition has been monitoring water quality in the area since 1992. 

Rasmussen said that when it comes to water quality there was “something going on in Sippican Harbor that we [couldn’t] explain.”  In 2009, the group approached the town to ask if the lagoons were unlined. Selectmen cooperated with an initial investigation, but after the cause was discovered, Rasmussen said “the town resisted for many years trying to do anything about the project.”

After learning about the DEP’s ruling, Rasmussen said he “couldn’t be happier with with solution. I’m frustrated that it took this long. But a fifty year old pollution source is getting shut down.” 

Despite some reluctance on the part of town officials in the past, Rasmussen credits current Selectmen Randy Parker and John Waterman for taking more action on the issue. 

Now that the suit is resolved, the Buzzards Bay Coalition is more than happy to help Marion line the other lagoons. “How do we all work together to identify grants and other funding sources” for the project? Rasmussen asked. 

Attorney Michael Leon, who has previously served as the town’s counsel, handled the lawsuit.