DEP Employees Testify In Northborough's Odor Case At S.A. Farm

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Two DEP employees testify during the third day of the trial of S.A. Farm owner Santo Anza Jr. of Northborough. Photo Credit: Bret Matthew

NORTHBOROUGH, Mass. — Two employees of the state Department of Environmental Protection testified on the third day of the trial of S.A. Farm owner Santo Anza Jr. who is charged with operating an illegal dump site on his Northborough property. 

DEP inspector Michelle Delemarre, who investigates hazardous waste and air pollution, told prosecutors that she believed reports of strong odors from Anza's farm at 429 Whitney St. are evidence of air pollution.

Delemarre was asked about Coolidge Circle resident Gina Babcock's July 15 report that her children had trouble playing outside due to the smell, which made breathing difficult. Babcock, along with Scott Stocklin of Patrick Drive and Jeff Faulconer of Coolidge Circle, testified on the first and second day of the trial.

"It's my opinion that that is also a condition of air pollution," Delemarre said. "It would be unreasonable interference with the enjoyment of their property if they can't go out and use their yard."

Anza'a defense attorney, Mark Miliotis, objected several times during Delemarre's testimony, claiming that she could not pass off her interpretation of state regulations as fact. However, Judge Richard Tucker said expert witnesses were allowed to explain complicated regulations to the court while also giving their opinion.

During his cross-examination, Miliotis asked how Delemarre gathered her information about S.A. Farm.

She said she relied on complaints from neighbors as well as data gathered by DEP investigators.

"Don't you have a methodology?" Miliotis asked.

Delemarre said although there is no formal protocol, investigators locate and judge odors based on their own experience. Sometimes this takes only one site visit, she said, although more are required sometimes.

"Odors are difficult because they change during the day," Delemarre said.

The next witness, James McQuade, solid waste section chief of the DEP, told prosecutors that the S.A. Farm was not permitted to handle solid waste when many neighbors were complaining about its odor. 

The property, he said, was registered with the state Department of Agricultural Resources from Jan. 1, 2011, and April 15, 2011. Only during that time, was Anza, 52, allowed to bring offsite waste to his property, McQuade said.

Anza's trial is tentatively scheduled to continue in Worcester Superior Court on Jan. 31.

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