It's a complicated situation in Leominster, Mass.
The state Department of Environmental Protection has fined plastic-container manufacturer Plastican Inc. $22,000 for violating a state law protecting wetlands.
But John R. Clementi, Plastican president and chief executive officer, points the finger at the city of Leominster for the violation, which he said was made by a contractor hired by the city to remediate soil contamination caused by an inadequate sewer system.
The site in question involves 30,000 square feet of land on Plastican property where storm-water runoff from other properties has mixed with ``copious amounts'' of backed-up raw sewage and contaminated the soil, Clementi said.
``It's like a Third World country here,'' he said. ``I have a public health hazard I need remedied.''
Plastican earlier this year won a court battle against the city to clean up the contaminated soil and rechannel stormwater runoff on the property, Clementi said.
Robert Kimball, a DEP environmental engineer at the Central Regional office, which has jurisdiction in Leominster, said the court also ordered the city to reroute the failing sewer line around the Plastican property.
After the project was under way, Clementi said the city conservation commission notified DEP that vegetation in the nearby wetlands was removed, a violation of state law.
Kimball said the removal of the vegetation was a ``blatant violation'' by the company. He said the company and its lawyer had been told numerous times not to disturb the wetland area.
Kimball further asserted that Plastican deliberately had the wetland removed so that it could expand its plant on the parcel.
But Clementi denies that Plastican ordered the wetland to be removed, again because the contractor was working for the city and was not working for his firm.
``There is no question that someday I would like to build something there, because it is zoned industrial; but it has nothing to do with this,'' Clementi said, adding that Plastican has no immediate plans to expand its Leominster plant.
``If there is a violation here, the city or the contractor should be fined,'' Clementi said.
In addition to the fine, the DEP has ordered Plastican to restore the wetland, which was created by runoff from surrounding properties into a surface drain.
Clementi said Plastican is appealing the DEP fine.