CALVERTON - The Pine Barren Commission voted today to continue to allow tens of thousands of Sandy-damaged cars to be stored on environmentally sensitive land, and a prominent environmentalist is calling it a "disgraceful" conflict of interest.
The Sandy-wrecked vehicles are lined up on old runways at the EPCAL site, the former Grumman property in the Town of Riverhead. The site sits on protected pine barrens land, and environmentalists worry that oil and other fluids are seeping out and contaminating the groundwater.
The Pine Barrens Commission voted today to pursue legal action against the owners of the Ringoff family property, where it's believed that only about 300 cars are being stored.
However, the board won't take action at EPCAL, and environmentalist Dick Amper says it's because the Town of Riverhead is a member of the Pine Barrens Commission. He says the town has a lucrative contract that allows tens of thousands of cars to be stored at the site, and the other board members did not want to deny the town the money, even at the expense of the sensitive land.
All of the commission members present at the meeting refused to comment to News 12 Long Island about the vote. In a telephone interview, Riverhead Supervisor Sean Walter told News 12 that all of the cars being stored by the town are in compliance with town, pine barrens and Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) regulations.
In a statement, the DEC said all of the cars being stored by the town are in compliance with its regulations.