Nov. 21—A Lancaster man has been arrested on civil contempt of court charges stemming from an alleged "longstanding refusal to comply" with court orders to stop operating a motor vehicle and scrap metal yard until the site meets state solid and hazardous waste laws.
The series of court orders were issued from July 2018 through September 2022.
The court ordered Daniel Benoit, Sr., of Lancaster — arrested after first finding him in contempt of the court's orders on half-a-dozen prior occasions since 2019 and $100,000 in fines imposed, along with an additional $55,500 in contempt sanctions — proved "insufficient to incentivize him to initiate and sequentially complete the court-ordered cleanup of his illegal motor vehicle salvage (junkyard) and scrap metal yard," the Attorney General's Office said in a news release.
Benoit was released on bail conditions requiring him to initiate cleanup efforts on one area of his auto salvage yard and scrap metal facility, and finish cleaning up that first site no later than Jan. 15, 2023.
Benoit is also required to complete cleanups at nine other areas of the site included in a compliance schedule imposed by a Nov. 1, 2021 court order (one area at a time, 60 days to clean up each area).
"The court cautioned Mr. Benoit that any continued failure to comply with the court's orders could result in his reincarceration for indirect civil contempt," the Attorney General's Office said in a release.
The court has scheduled a review hearing to re-assess Benoit's compliance on Feb. 6, 2023, following another NHDES inspection of the site 3-5 business days prior to the Feb. 6, 2023 review hearing.
"The NHDES Solid Waste Management Bureau and the Motor Vehicle Salvage Yard Program have attempted to work with Mr. Benoit since December of 2013 in an effort to get the site into compliance," the Attorney General's Office said in a release. "The Attorney General's Office also brought suit and secured a judgment against Mr. Benoit in July of 2018, which deferred civil penalties but required Mr. Benoit to bring the site into compliance."
Benoit has been ordered to remove all end-of-life (junk) vehicles ("ELVs") from the site and to stop accepting additional ELVs, to remove all containerized motor vehicle fluids, remove all junk car parts, solid waste (including household garbage) and waste tires from 10 areas on the site.