Mobile home owner facing $60,000 bill
By Robin Thomas
August 28, 2008 03:51 am
— MERRIMAC — Mobile home owner Linda Janvrin is facing the prospect of being held responsible for a 65-gallon oil spill at her home at 6 H St. that cost more than $60,000 to clean up.
Earlier this month, the owners of North Shore Community Park brought action against her in Essex Superior Court to recover the $61,756 they spent cleaning up the Jan. 31 accident.
A visibly upset Janvrin told the Board of Health last week that she received an oil delivery on that day but felt compelled to immediately check the oil gauge on her tank. “I had this instinct,” she said. “It wasn’t negligence on my part.”
She recalled finding a leak underneath the tank and calling the Fire Department while she tried to prevent the leaking oil from spilling into the ground. Janvrin said they installed a plug and told her, “If it weren’t for me, it would have been far worse.”
Janvrin said a temporary tank was hooked up after the accident, and the damaged oil tank was left outside on a plastic cover for several weeks.
Board of Health member Carol Traynor wondered if such exposure “exacerbated the problem.”
Chairman Eileen Hurley said the dispute over who is responsible for paying for the cleanup revolves around “who really owns the tank. Oil tanks in mobile home parks are a big issue. There are all different angles, and I can’t get to the bottom of it.”
Hurley said the DEP holds the park owner responsible for the cleanup but also gives the park owners the right to seek reimbursement from the oil tank owner.
Ed Madden of the Rent Control Board, who lives in the North Shore Community Park, said, “When you buy a mobile home in that park, it comes with a fuel tank. It all comes together in a package.”
Janvrin said that her home inspection 10 years ago did not reveal a problem with her oil tank.
Janvrin had replaced her furnace and floor after she discovered that the floor boards and ground were “soaked” with kerosene a few months after moving to the park. She did not report the ground contamination at the time “because I didn’t know I was supposed to.”
Mobile home residents at North Shore Community own their homes, but not the land the homes are placed on.
After January’s oil spill, Janvrin had to leave her house for 2¬½ months because “it so poisoned me, I couldn’t breathe.” She has since returned to her home but continues to have problems related to the cleanup, such as exposed electrical wires.
At Traynor’s suggestion, the board agreed to ask the electrical inspector to check the wires to ensure there are no safety issues.
Hurley told Janvrin, “The Board of Health tries to help people if they can.”
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