BRENTWOOD, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) – Lawsuits are being prepared as the investigation into toxic dumping at a Long Island park continues.
As WCBS 880 Long Island Bureau Chief Mike Xirinachs reported, police were standing guard at the gate of the now-closed Roberto Clemente Park in Brentwood, after Suffolk County District Attorney Tom Spota said about 1,100 truckloads of contaminated debris were dumped there.
As CBS 2’s Carolyn Gusoff reported, the public 28-acre park is now a crime scene, with charges expected soon.
On one day, detectives from the DA’s office observed 48 tractor-trailers dumping debris in the park, Spota said.
He called the scene “an environmental nightmare” at a news conference on Tuesday.
“The gravity of this situation is unravelling every day to us and it saddens all of us, especially the poor people who live in this neighborhood,” Town of Islip spokeswoman Inez Birbiglia told Gusoff.
“For somebody to do that knowing that kids are going to play here, that’s horrible,” Brentwood resident Russell Kenngott said.
Residents who live nearby said they worry for their health upon learning of the illegal dumping of debris, including asbestos, in the park.
“Be with the family, go there,” a woman who lives across the street from the park told Xirinachs. “We don’t know what’s in there.”
“It’s dangerous for the people, the children, for everybody,” said another woman.
Town workers went door-to-door Thursday to explain to residents why the park is closed indefinitely.
Resident said they saw trucks coming in and out of the park for months, dumping glass, bricks and concrete on soccer fields.
Other neighbors noticed the dust, Gusoff reported.
“There have been issues with coughing, asthma. The dust has been ridiculous,” resident Michael Morales said.
“The kids that were playing in the park and the animals that are living in the neighborhood so overall, it’s kind of devastating,” Alyse Rostas added.
The Town of Islip is preparing to sue the contractors responsible for the toxic dumping and the district attorney looks into possible criminal action.
Inspectors hired by the DA’s office were at the park earlier this week testing the soil for possible contamination. Prosecutors are also looking into who knew what and when regarding the illegal dumping.
Islip officials say the asbestos is unmoved, so there’s no immediate health risk. Enviornmental groups are calling for federal agencies to test what’s leaching underground.
“It was a supposed to be a way for the children to come play and be able to be outside and enjoy nature and now it’s turned into poison park and that is a crime against this whole community,” Adrienne Esposito with Citizens Campaign for the Environment said.
The clean-up is expected to cost millions of dollars.
The parks commissioner has resigned and the town is conducting an internal investigation. Spota said the dumping began last June.
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