Following months of pressure from local, state and federal officials, the federal government has agreed to provide Braintree with $450,000 from a hazardous waste settlement with that originally targeted $1 million for tree plantings in Boston.
Mayor Joseph Sullivan said on Wednesday that the Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Justice agreed to the mitigation change after the town showed it was not going to give up on funding for an East Braintree aerial platform fire truck.
"We never should have been put in this position," Sullivan said. "We had our backs to the wall and we had to push back."
Last August that Clean Harbors would pay $1.7 million in fines and restitution, stemming from an investigation that uncovered 30 violations at Clean Harbor’s Braintree storage site on Quincy Avenue, including inadequate containment, improper storage and failure to properly maintain hazardous-waste tanks.
Sullivan quickly marshaled a wide range of support to bring the settlement money to Braintree. Town councilors, the East Braintree Civic Association, individual residents, state lawmakers and the offices of Sen. John Kerry, D-MA, Sen. Scott Brown, R-MA, and Rep. Stephen Lynch, D-MA, all pushed for the funding, which they argued properly belonged to Braintree because that is where the violations occurred. Town Solicitor Carolyn Murray wrote rebutting the original agreement.
"They all stayed involved," Sullivan said. "We mobilized support from the federal level to the grassroots."
The new fire truck is especially important to East Braintree and the surrounding region, said District 3 Councilor Tom Bowes, because the neighborhood is densely populated and includes major industrial facilities.
Braintree officials first staked out a full-funding request for the $925,000 aerial platform truck, but in the end Boston will still receive a significant portion of the settlement for its tree planting project.
Clean Harbors will spend at least $612,500 on planting 800 trees in targeted low-income, historically disadvantaged neighborhoods in Boston over a two-year period, according to a press release issued by the EPA on Wednesday.
"It was a compromise, that's what it's all about," Councilor-at-Large Leland Dingee said on hearing the news.
The $450,000 will come to Braintree after a 30-day process, Sullivan said. It will cover almost half the cost of the truck, the funding for which has already been approved by the .
This article has been updated with information from the EPA.