Family Bankrupted By Oil Spill Not Happy to Return to Home

The Demerses' oil spill-ravaged Martin Avenue home and the temporary mobile home outside it, as shown on Dec. 19, 2013. The mobile home will soon be removed. [Courtesy of Michael Demers]
The Demerses' oil spill-ravaged Martin Avenue home and the temporary mobile home outside it, as shown on Dec. 19, 2013. The mobile home will soon be removed. [Courtesy of Michael Demers]
[Editor's note: The article was originally published at 5:30 a.m. on Jan. 9. It has since been updated to fix incorrect information that was quoted from an Eagle-Tribune report. The Demerses have not yet rebuilt their basement.]

A Salem family struggling for the past seven years with an oil spill that rendered their home unlivable will soon move back into the structure because of a town mandate.

Michael Demers said he and his 69-year-old mother, Suzanne, plan to move back into their 21 Martin Ave. house after they remove the temporary mobile home placed outside it on Jan. 17. The house still reeks of oil because of a February 2007 spill, though, which makes the occasion less than celebratory for the Demerses. 

On Feb. 6, 2007, over 200 gallons of home heating oil flooded the basement of their $300,000 home, the assessment for which dropped to roughly $55,000 in 2012 because of the spill.

The Demerses have claimed the spill was caused by an employee of Haffner's Oil in Lawrence, Mass., who overfilled their tank. The family lost their subsequent court case against Haffner's, Haffner's insurer Acadia, and two companies responsible for the cleanup — Enpro Services and Ambrose Environmental Management, Inc.

This placed the family in hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt and started a lengthy struggle to convince the town to allow them to live in a 70-foot trailer on the property, according to Michael.

The Eagle-Tribune has reported that significant work has been performed to eliminate the some of the fuel odors, mitigate mold issues, and install a new venting system, just as the Demerses had hoped.

More work is needed and the work completed so far hasn't fully solved the problems, though, and Michael is reportedly worried the smell could make himself or his mother ill.

The town granted numerous extensions on move-out deadlines for the mobile home — which received complaints from area residents — although the Demerses were ultimately told they had to move out this month, according to the Eagle-Tribune. The Demerses are reportedly attempting to raise funds to demolish and rebuild the home.

Patch will have more on this story as it develops.
Liz January 09, 2014 at 07:35 AM
I feel bad for them. And why can't people mind their own business? How is their mobile home hurting anyone? And no, I don't know them.
Shorty January 09, 2014 at 08:42 AM
That smell gets into all of the insulation of the entire house. Imagine having that constant smell..it is sickening . I have smelled a oil spill before outside. It lasted for months and months. All of the Sheetrock, insulation and floorings would have to be replaced. Then cleaning of the framework and pipes etc. The insurance company of Haffner's should have just knocked down and rebuilt the house. Cheaper and quicker and SAFER Health wise . Typical..and other words that can't be written here. This poor family.
Hibiscus January 09, 2014 at 12:20 PM
This is awful, no one should have to live in this type of environment. All the big companies involved in this case should get together and help this family, it's sad they lost the case, we're all human beings. Always has to be about the almighty dollar.
Michael January 12, 2014 at 01:04 AM
January 12, 2014 Dear readers, supporters, and friends and local contractors please visit www.haffnersoilspill.com for latest information and back story. "Another Way To Contribute To This Cause Is To Help Spread The Word On Your Social Media Websites, and Tell Your Friends Mom Needs Your Help!" Please Like Mom's Face Book Page https://www.facebook.com/pages/Campaign-For-Moms-Home/311959248918947?ref=hl Follow Us On Twitter: @americaformom We are looking for local contractors specializing in foundation replacement, chimney repair, electricians, plumbers, painters, carpenters, building suppliers and volunteers interested in being part of 2014 Home Makeover for this 69 year old woman, who has been displaced for nearly 7 years and is now faced with bankruptcy as a result of this oil spill and cleanup disaster. Over the last 7 months we have gutted the entire basement, prepped and encapsulated the basement ceiling, and replaced insulation, installed a new exterior oil tank, fuel line and new enclosure, repaired all water pipes, installed temporary venting system ->[which you can smell oil coming from] and vapor barrier in basement and remediated all mold from the entire home. Her once finished basement is not safe clean or livable at this time and continues to smell of fuel oil. We are replacing the foundation of the home and restoring her basement, not rebuilding this home. We want to pin up this home and remove its oil impacted foundation and the remaining contamination and replace the soil and install a permanent venting system and vapor barrier below it. To eliminate the hazardous fuel vapors from entering the living space of the home. Those interested in being a part of this Home Makeover Campaign for Mom, please send email to Michael.d92@gmail.com or call 1-603-912-5269 No one should have to smell fuel oil in their home 7 years later after an oil spill and after the [NHDES listed Responsible Party] -> Haffner's Oil Company spilled it and it's Insurer ->Acadia Insurance Company -> spent over $400,000 to clean it to a so called NH State Standard level -> While, it's hired cleanup contractors-> Enpro Services Inc. and Ambrose Environmental Management Inc. took over 14 months to complete this supposed cleanup! Thank you, for your support! God Bless you and your families!The Demers Family.


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