SLOATSBURG, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — Contaminated dirt has been piled around Rockland County for years, and a sewer district paid to have it removed – but no work has been done.
As CBS2’s Tony Aiello reported, the concerns have now shifted from soil contamination to possible government corruption.
The orange fence set up around it is brand new, but the pile of dirt is not. It has been sitting at the Sloatsburg Community Fields on Rockland County since Jacqueline Collins, now in her 20s, was a young teen.
“I never knew there was anything wrong with it,” she said. “I definitely climbed it as a kid!”
It is one of four big pikes left over from a sewer excavation project. The soil is contaminated with petroleum byproducts including benzopyrene, and prolonged exposure can cause health issues.
“It’s not ideal,” said Clarkstown Supervisor George Hoehmann. “I wouldn’t want it in my park.”
Hoehmann is trying to fix the mess. He took office as Clarkstown supervisor last year, and he now chairs the local Sewer District Board.
Six years ago, that board cut a no-bid deal with another town in the sewer district, agreeing to pay Ramapo $800,000 to dispose of the soil.
Ramapo was paid $400,000 upfront, but never removed the dirt. It remains piled where it was left in 2011;
Ramapo Town Supervisor Christopher St. Lawrence also sat on the sewer board. He is currently under indictment on unrelated corruption charges.
“A lot of people dropped the ball. And frankly, it was a total circumventing of the bidding process,” Hoehmann said. “It just – it’s shocking that it was allowed to happen.”
“It’s just throwing of another log on the fire of corrupt local government,” added Sloatsburg resident Chris Bade. “And people around here are fed up with it.”
And the stagnant pile is not only raising eyebrows in Rockland County. It is also getting the attention of the FBI.
Agents with subpoenas visited this week. Sources said it is a robust investigation into a possible dirty deal.
CBS2 reached out to St. Lawrence, but did not hear back. On Thursday night, the mayor of Sloatsburg was set to meet with residents concerned about the contaminated soil and the delay cleaning it up.