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General Laws

Section 14. The following property shall be subject to seizure by members of the state police, environmental police officers, and local police and to forfeiture to the commonwealth:

(1) All conveyances, including motor vehicles, trailers, vessels, or other containers, used or intended for use to transport hazardous wastes in violation of this chapter or of any regulation, order, license, or approval issued or adopted under this chapter;

(2) All books, records, or other materials which are or contain any evidence of a violation of this chapter or of any regulation, order, license, or approval issued or adopted under this chapter; and

(3) All hazardous wastes collected, transported, stored, used, treated, disposed of, or otherwise handled in violation of this chapter or of any regulation, order, license, or approval issued or adopted under this chapter.

Within fourteen days of the seizure of any property for violation of this chapter or of any regulation, order, license, or approval issued or adopted under this chapter, the attorney general or a district attorney shall file a libel with the superior court. The libel shall state briefly the grounds for the seizure and pray for the forfeiture of the property.

The superior court for the county in which the property was seized or for Suffolk county shall have jurisdiction and venue over the forfeiture proceeding.

Upon the filing of a libel with the superior court, the clerk shall issue an order of notice requiring the commonwealth to send a copy of the libel by certified mail to the owner of the property and to any other persons appearing to have an interest in the property. If no owner or interested person can be determined, the commonwealth shall cause notice of the libel to be published at least twice in a newspaper published in the county in which the property was seized.

The superior court shall promptly, but not less than two weeks after the issuance of the order of notice by the clerk of the second publication in the newspaper, hold a hearing on the libel. The libel shall be conducted as a civil in rem action without jury, in which the commonwealth shall have the burden of proving all material facts by a preponderance of credible evidence. At the hearing of the libel, the superior court shall hear evidence, make findings of fact and conclusions of law, and shall issue a final order. The court shall not issue an order impounding a vehicle without making a finding that the owner of such vehicle knew, or should have known, that it was used for illegal transport of hazardous waste.

If the commonwealth maintains its libel, the superior court shall declare the property forfeit to the commonwealth and may provide for the disposition of the property by the commonwealth in any manner not prohibited by law, including:

(1) Use by a law enforcement or other public agency;

(2) Sale at a public auction. The proceeds from the sale of the property shall be used to pay for reasonable expenses incurred in the seizure, storage and maintenance, and proceedings for the forfeiture of the property. Any balance shall be forwarded to the department for use in the enforcement of this chapter; and

(3) Disposal of hazardous wastes seized pursuant to this section.

Any officer, department or agency having custody of any property seized or forfeited pursuant to this section shall maintain complete records describing all such property in detail, showing from whom the property was received and to whom it was delivered, and indicating the period during which it was in custody. The department shall maintain complete records describing the types and quantities of hazardous wastes disposed of pursuant to this section and the dates and methods of their disposal.

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