The presence of asbestos has been confirmed at a debris site in Central Islip raided Tuesday morning, Newsday reports. According to Suffolk County’s top prosecutor, the culprit may be the same party responsible for illegally dumping toxic waste at an Islip Town park nearby. Suffolk County District Attorney Thomas Spota said that investigators are trying to determine if illegal dumping occurred at other sites in the town.
Recently, some 32,000 tons of debris was illegally dumped in Roberto Clemente Park in Brentwood. Spota has stated that at least one “unscrupulous contractor” is to blame for the “environmental nightmare”.
The debris at the raided site, located at Route 111 and Sage Street, looked “very, very similar in appearance to that dumped at Roberto Clemente Park” investigators who conducted the search warrant said.
At a Hauppauge news conference, Spota said “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,” Although he did get into specifics, he said that investigators would be focusing on recently completed construction projects and vacant lots.
Spota said that preliminary testing shows that asbestos was present at the debris site. Specifically, he said that construction shingles located near the public street front were found to contain a 16 percent concentration for asbestos. To put this into perspective, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) threshold for materials containing asbestos is greater than 1 percent. According to Newsday, Spota said it was “disturbing” that residents had complained about the site on a town phone line but never heard back. “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,” said Spota. “This office does not share that belief. I can assure you, there will be consequences.”
According to Islip Town spokeswoman Inez Birbiglia, the town has received seven complaints about the Sage Street site since last February. The complaints, which were submitted to the town’s constituent services, included reports of dirt spilling over the broken fence, high grass and other property maintenance problems, Newsday reports.
On Tuesday, people who live and work near the site said it had been active last fall, with 19-wheeler trucks being loaded and leaving throughout the day. The presence of asbestos-containing debris has raised significant health and environmental concerns in the town, Newsday reports. 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.”