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DA: Illegal Dumping Investigation Reveals Banned Pesticides, Dangerous Metals At 2 Suffolk County Locations

HAUPPAUGE, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — Test results announced Thursday showed that two locations under investigation for illegal dumping in the Town of Islip are more dangerous than first thought.

As CBS 2’s Carolyn Gusoff reported, the Suffolk County District Attorney’s office launched a probe into illegal dumping at the sites, digging deep into the parkland. The results were troubling.

In addition to asbestos, Suffolk County District Attorney Thomas Spota said further testing revealed Roberto Clemente Park in Brentwood and a private lot on Route 111 in Central Islip are badly contaminated with hazardous pesticides, toxic metals and petroleum products.

“Antimony, arsenic, cadmium, chromium, lead (and) copper” were among the toxic elements found at the site, Spota said. Tests also found cobalt, which is classified as an acutely hazardous substance.

The substances were found along with asbestos on soccer fields and sledding hills at Roberto Clemente Park, and in a recharge basin. The same results were found at the Central Islip site, where samples showed 10 times the legal limit for contamination.

“The hazardous materials include chlordane, DDT, and an acutely hazardous insecticide called Dieldrin,” Spota said.

The substances are so unsafe that they were banned years ago, he explained.

“Dieldrin in particular, it is no longer produced in the United States because of its harmful effects, DDT has been banned since 2001,” Spota said.

He warned anyone who used the park since dumping began last spring until it was shut down earlier this year could be at risk.

“Think of children playing in the park or playing in the contaminated areas who may have touched some of this material,” Spota said. “They may have been placed at risk, that does not mean that they are, but there is that possibility of risk.”

Spota said remediation of the two sites will be the burden of the Town of Islip, and that cleanup “will be a long term process with multiple steps and multiple agencies involved.”

The findings added insult to injury for Brentwood residents, whose park has been closed in a criminal investigation into who filled ballfields with 50,000 tons of toxic waste.

“It’s just totally ridiculous; there’s kids — it’s a park, for God sake!” said Debbie Kordulac of Brentwood.

The contaminants found are known carcinogens that can leach into the groundwater.

“They linger for decades; they don’t break down readily,” said New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Capt. Timothy Huss.

The DA has yet to file criminal charges, but the town of Islip said it has filed insurance claims against Datre Companies.

The builders vigorously deny any wrongdoing.

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“We were never at that site. We never dumped anything at that site. We never hauled anything to that site,” said Tom Datre Sr., co-owner of Daytree at Cortland Square.

The Town of Islip has now declared a state of emergency to speed up a now bigger cleanup.

“That park will be cleaned up, it will be reopened, and it will be even better than before,” said Islip town spokeswoman Inez Birbiglia.

But residents now have new worries.

“My kid goes there, and my nephews go there, so now we got to go get them checked out,” said Michael Hernandez.
“Are we breathing this stuff in?” added Kordulac. “How long have we been breathing it in?”

Spota emphasized that it is not certain that the contamination posed a health risk.

“They may have been placed at risk — not necessarily are,” he said. “There is that possibility.”

The DA will not name names, but said the same contractor tied to all five of the locations it is investigating. Islip town is now testing all of its public parks, and said it could be fall before Roberto Clemente Park is reopened.

Meanwhile, no asbestos was found at a third site, Veteran’s Way in Islandia, but results are still pending on other hazardous materials.

Test results were still pending Thursday at PAL Fields in Central Islip, where five pieces of asbestos were found, and in Deer Park wetlands.

Results of samples from the dump site found in the wetlands near Brook Avenue in Deer Park, on the Islip-Babylon town border, are expected next week, the district attorney’s office said.

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