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Riverhead Residents Not Breathing Easy Over Recycling Plant

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RIVERHEAD, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — A giant scrap metal heap has neighbors in one Long Island town worried about what they’re breathing in.

And as CBS 2’s Jennifer McLogan reported, they have also complained that the noise coming from the Riverhead recycling facility is unbearable.

“It’s like sonic booms,” said neighbor Richard Luzzi. “That’s how loud it is. It’s just unbelievable. And the vibration from the houses — pictures on the walls are falling off.

Luzzi and his outraged neighbors have had it with the crushing of scrap metal next door — cars, refrigerators, air conditioners, washing machines.

They took noisy home video of the junkyard that borders their homes and say they documented spills into the nearby Saw Mill Brook that empties into the Peconic River.

“It’s now become very murky,” homeowner Barbara Guerin said of the river. “There used to be ducks and fish, and they are disappearing.”

What was the decades-long home of a used auto parts shop on Hubbard Avenue was taken over last year by Gershow Recycling. The company put up fencing and tried to buffer the echoing sounds with shipping containers.

Residents say they wonder what they’re breathing when microwaves and computers are pulverized.

“I am a heart patient, and I am coughing,” said Michael Donahue. ” … It gets to be where you become frightened after a while.”

“Everybody’s worried here,” said Virginia Lang. “I mean, we’re not young people, and we want to live as much as we can.”

The neighbors took their complaints to Town Hall, claiming zoning and land-use codes are being broken.

Riverhead Town Attorney Robert Kozakiewicz filed suit against Gershow Recycling in state Supreme Court.

“Not something that the residents are happy to look at,” he said. “And they’re not happy with the noise that’s being generated when this is being dumped and loaded. These are both  a change of use and an expansion of use.”

Gershow said it is a good neighbor, consistently meeting or exceeding industry operational standards.

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