NY AG Lowers Boom on Long Island Dumping Legacy

Hosting a May 4, 2017, press conference at the park long shuttered because of asbestos dumping, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman announces a lawsuit against accused polluters.

(CN) — Announcing the federal complaint at a Long Island park sullied in a toxic dumping scandal, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman brought charges Thursday against the companies he says left tens of thousands of tons of deadly debris there in 2014.

Schneiderman’s visit falls one day shy of the third anniversary of Roberto Clemente Park’s closure in Brentwood, amid reports site that had been contaminated with asbestos and other toxins like antimony, arsenic, cadmium, chromium, lead, copper, zinc, and cobalt.

In the ensuing prosecution of implicated companies, Suffolk County District Attorney Tom Spota secured guilty pleas from Thomas Datre Jr., from the family-run business 5 Brothers Farming Corp., and Christopher Grabe, of Islandia Recycling.

Along with 32 others, both companies are named Thursday in the new complaint unveiled Thursday by Schneiderman.

“Parks aren’t luxuries,” the attorney general said in a statement. “They are vital to the public health, economies, and social fabrics of the communities they serve.”

Scheiderman said that 39,000 tons of construction waste have been removed so far, but Brentwood has been preparing parts of Roberto Clemente Park for a grand reopening this summer.

Filed in the Eastern District of New York, the 41-page lawsuit provides an overview of Brentwood’s cleanup efforts over the past three years.

“After finding that hazardous substances had been disposed at the park, the town took action to remove those substances from the park,” the complaint states. “The town employed Enviroscience Consultants, Inc. to prepare a ‘Material Removal Work Plan’ and to submit that work plan to DEC for review and approval prior to the commencement of the work. DEC approved that work plan on Jan. 13, 2015.”

Emphasizing that Brentwood should not be left to foot the bill, Scheiderman hopes to collect payment from dozens of construction contractors, waste brokers and waste haulers that his complaint names as defendants. The list includes IEV Trucking, COD Services, All Island Masonry & Concrete, Building Dev, Dimyon Development, New Empire Builder, Cipriano Excavation, Touchstone Homes, Sams Rent and Construction, New York Major Construction, Triton Construction, Sukram and Sons, M&Y Developers, Atria Builders and Woori Construction.

They are accused of violating Superfund law, causing a public nuisance and negligence.

“Illegal disposal of waste is a criminal enterprise motivated purely by greed that is a growing threat to the environment and public health,” Basil Seggos, commissioner of New York’s Department of Environmental Conservations Commissioner, said in a statement.

Schneiderman’s assistant Rebecca Fromer signed the complaint.

Along with a state park in the Bronx, Brentwood’s Roberto Clemente Park is one of two in New York named after a Pittsburgh Pirates right fielder who died in a 1972 plane crash. The 38-year-old All-Star had been flying to Nicaragua as part of an earthquake-relief effort. A year later, Puerto Rico-born Clemente became the first Latin American and Caribbean player to be enshrined in the National Baseball Hall of Fame.

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