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Former pig farmer indicted after hazardous waste discovery.

Byline: Elaine Thompson

HUDSON - A former Hudson man was indicted by a Middlesex grand jury yesterday for failure to report more than 90 55-gallon drums of hazardous waste authorities found buried on the site of a former pig farm.

Thomas Zina, 48, who now lives in Belmont, N.H., is charged with 16 counts of failure to report the threat of a release of hazardous materials. If convicted, he faces a fine of not more than $100,000 or imprisonment in state prison for not more than 20 years or in a jail or house of correction for not more than 2-1/2 years or both for each count. An arraignment date has not been scheduled.

"This is all new to me. I don't know anything about it," Mr. Zina said when a reporter told him about the indictment in a phone interview last night.

The Zinas began operating the 19-acre pig farm on Zina Road in the 1940s. They discontinued the operation several years ago and attempted to sell a portion of the farm to a developer in 2002. A company the developer hired to test the soil for contaminants found the drums buried on the property. Mr. Zina was told that as the property owner, he was required to notify the state Department of Environmental Protection of the potential threat of the release of hazardous materials within two hours of its discovery. Harry Pierre, a spokesperson with state Attorney General Martha Coakley's office, said Mr. Zina failed to do so.

Around 2005, Mr. Zina sold a different portion of the property to Riverside Farm Estates, which is in the process of developing the nine-lot Elaine Circle Subdivision. Mr. Pierre said that the following year, when DEP was investigating the development plan, the agency became aware of the report filed by the 2002 developer. He declined to give the name of that developer. During a site inspection, authorities unearthed 96 55-gallon drums containing large quantities of toluene and methylene chloride buried on the property. Soil samples last April showed that both chemicals had leaked into the soil and toluene had seeped into the Assabet River, located about 200 feet away. The chemicals pose danger to human health and the environment.

DEP spent $60,000 in 2007 to decontaminate the soil. If convicted, Mr. Zina could be ordered to repay that money, Mr. Pierre said. He said the subdivision is located on a different portion of the former farm than where the drums were found. Asked if the chemicals pose a threat to the river, he said: "As far as we know right now, no."

The drums contained solidified paint waste, indicating that they had been buried for a long time, Mr. Pierre said.

"We don't know where the paint was from. It was in an advance decay state," he said.

Paul W. Blazar, Hudson's executive assistant, said he was not surprised to hear about the indictment of Mr. Zina.

"There have been issues with the pig farm and what might be on it going back 20 years, at least," Mr. Blazar said.

In 1989, Hudson health officials ordered Mr. Zina, then manager of the farm and son of the owner, Helen Zina, to properly bury animal carcasses found strewn on the property and sticking out of two dirt mounds. Later that year, the Middlesex County District Attorney's office began an investigation after local health officials said they believed Mr. Zina was hauling in demolition debris and using the farm as an illegal dump.

The home and property at 5 Zina Road where Mr. Zina lived was foreclosed on last year by Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corp. of McLean, Va., according to a town official.
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Title Annotation:LOCAL NEWS
Publication:Telegram & Gazette (Worcester, MA)
Date:Mar 14, 2008
Words:615
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