BOSTON – The Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) penalized Western Avenue Auto Body of Lynn, Inc. $44,000 after two of the station’s inspectors were found to have conducted 22 fraudulent automobile emission inspections over a five-day period during the fall of 2013.
The investigation was undertaken by the Massachusetts Environmental Strike Force (ESF) and MassDEP’s Inspection and Maintenance Program (I&M). The ESF is a joint investigative effort of MassDEP, the Office of the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office and the Massachusetts Environmental Police.
An inspector at Western Avenue Auto Body, when questioned by an ESF investigator, admitted that some of the local repair shops would bring in vehicles for an inspection sticker even though they could not pass inspection due to either the vehicle’s computer not being ready for testing or due to having the check-engine light on.
“We will not let rogue inspection stations circumvent the emissions testing protocol deliberately, which cheats everyone who plays by the rules and results in dirty car pollution,” said MassDEP Commissioner David W. Cash. “This type of activity undermines the integrity of the state’s emissions programs and jeopardizes improvements we’ve fought to make in air quality in Massachusetts over the last 40 years.”
Additional hazardous waste management violations, related to the auto body repair operation, were also found at the 882 Western Avenue facility in Lynn, including failing to register as a very small quantity generator of waste oil and improper storage, record-keeping and labeling of hazardous waste.
Under the consent order, MassDEP has agreed to stay the emissions inspection license suspension for two years, provided there is no additional violation involving the auto emission inspection protocol. Western Avenue Auto Body will register as a generator of hazardous waste and bring the facility into full compliance on accumulation, record-keeping, storage and signage involving its hazardous waste.
The facility will also pay $11,000 of the total penalty and MassDEP will suspend the remaining $33,000 provided there are no additional violations over the next two years.
MassDEP is responsible for ensuring clean air and water, safe management and recycling of solid and hazardous wastes, timely cleanup of hazardous waste sites and spills and the preservation of wetlands and coastal resources.