RIDEM fines Burrillville man $5,000 for illegal cesspool


BURRILLVILLE – A homeowner, who the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management says has failed to comply with cesspool standards, was fined $5,000 this month for more than five years of violating the state statute.

Paul Menard, who owns a property on Angell Street, was informed of the penalty in a Notice Of Violation from RIDEM’s Office of Compliance & Inspection, which was also filed with the Burrillville Town Clerk.

According to the notice signed by RIDEM Administrator David Chopy and dated Tuesday, Dec. 5, Menard’s property has a cesspool less than 200 feet from Wallum Lake, which serves as a pubic drinking water supply. The violation notes that the cesspool became illegal in a state act first established in 2007, and that Menard was notified in 2013 that the property would need to ether connect to public sewers by January 2014, or he would need to apply for installation of an onsite wastewater treatment system.

Public sewer is not available in the area, and when no action was taken by March of 2014, Menard received his first fine for the violation – an administrative penalty of $200 – according to RIDEM. At the time, the homeowner applied for a hardship extension, and was given until January of 2019 to comply with the law.

As of the date of this month’s notice, Menard reportedly had still not taken action on the issue, resulting in a fine of $1,000 a year for five years.

“Wastewater contains many kinds of bacteria, viruses and parasites that can cause serious or fatal diseases in both humans and animals and contains pollutants that can cause groundwater and surface water impacts,” the notice states.

The $5,000 penalty must be paid within 30 days of the notice, and RIDEM has ordered the resident to immediately cease use of the cesspool, and to have a licensed OWTS designer submit an application for a new installation within 90 days. Once the application is approved, the work must be complete within 120 days.

The notice states that if a violation continues, each day could be considered a separate offense, categorizing the issue as a, “Type 1,” “Major,” violation, directly related to protecting health, safety, welfare or environment, which is subject to a penalty of $800 to $1,000 a day.

“The accrual of additional penalties and costs shall be suspended if RIDEM determines that reasonable efforts have been made to comply promptly with the NOV,” the notice states.

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  1. He had 5 years to come up with a plan to comply after filing an exemption. He chose to do nothing. A second mortgage, job, or loan, could have rectified the situation. The health and safety of a public water drinking supply is of the upmost importance.

  2. So basically, if you have a financial hardship and can’t afford a $50,000 wastewater treatment plant on your property, you’d have to sell your home. No simple $20,000 septic system will be approved being so close to the lake. The state should be helping out this person financially if it cares so much about the environment. Instead, they just buried him in more debt to ensure this property becomes useless and he loses his home. Great job Rhode Island! Sticking it to the little guy once again!

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