Asbestos has been found at a raided debris site in Islip, Newsday reports. According to Suffolk County’s top prosecutor, the people who dumped this debris may be the same people who illegally dumped toxic waste in Roberto Clemente Park in Brentwood nearby. Investigators are looking to see whether or not illegally dumping occurred anywhere else in the town, said Suffolk County District Attorney Thomas Spota.
Spota announced his suspicions at a Hauppauge news conference on Tuesday. “We believe the same individuals responsible for the dumping at Roberto Clemente Park may also have been responsible here at this site and other dump sites within the town,” he said. Spota said that investigators would be looking at recently completed construction projects and vacant lots, but did not reveal specific details.
Recently, it was discovered that an estimated 32,000 tons of debris was illegally dumped in Roberto Clemente Park in Brentwood. Spota says that at least one “unscrupulous contractor” is responsible for the “environmental nightmare” that has occurred due to the dumping.
The raided site is located at Route 111 and Sage Street. Investigators who conducted the search warrant said the debris there looked “very, very similar in appearance to that dumped at Roberto Clemente Park” Newsday reports.
“It appears to us there are people who think they can go into the Town of Islip and dump toxic and hazardous materials without any consequence at all,” Spota said. “This office does not share that belief. I can assure you, there will be consequences.”
Preliminary testing showed that asbestos was present at the Sage Street debris site. Specifically, Spota said that there was a 16 percent concentration for asbestos found in construction shingles located near the public street. As a comparison, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) threshold for materials containing asbestos is greater than 1 percent. Reportedly, residents have complained about the site on a town phone line but never heard back, something that Spota called “disturbing”.
The town has received seven complaints about the Sage Street site since last February, said Islip Town spokeswoman Inez Birbiglia. According to Newsday, the complaints included reports of dirt spilling over the broken fence, high grass and other property maintenance problems.
According to people who live and work near the site, it had been active last fall; 18-wheeler trucks were loaded and transporting materials throughout the day. Now that the presence of asbestos has been confirmed, there are an increased amount of health and environmental concerns. Tony Guglielmo and Leticia Santiago, two employees at Sheron Drugs, said that they saw at least two dozen trucks moving debris over the course of several months. Guglielmo, a pharmacist, told Newsday that the movement resulted in a large amount of dust constantly flying through the air. “Every day during those months, we’d come out after work and all our cars out there were covered in dust,” he said. “It’s been an eyesore but now we have to worry that there’s something toxic in there.”