Assembly hearing focuses on illegal dumping in Suffolk

The discussion focused on the waste disposal and sand-mining provisions of the Environmental Conservation Law.

The discussion focused on the waste disposal and sand-mining provisions of the Environmental Conservation Law. (12/16/15)

SMITHTOWN - An Assembly committee hearing in Smithtown Wednesday focused on how to prevent the dumping of tainted and harmful debris.

As News 12 has reported, four Suffolk dumping sites are under investigation. Those sites include Roberto Clemente Park in Brentwood, where 50,000 tons of contaminated debris was dumped. It also includes a housing development for veterans in Islandia and a state-protected wetlands site in Deer Park.

"We're interested in making sure that there is a greater level of accountability and scrutiny for the activities that might contaminate our communities and our drinking water," says Assemblyman Steve Englebright, of East Setauket.

Environmentalists say part of what makes the illegal dumping problem so complex are antiquated laws that don't work well when it comes to enforcement.

"The way the laws are written, it's actually cheaper to dump illegally than to dispose of the waste safely. These fines need to be increased. There needs to be jail time," says Adrienne Esposito, of the Citizens Campaign for the Environment.

Carrie Gallagher, the state's Department of Environmental Conservation regional director, says proposed changes are being worked on. Specifically, she says construction and demolition debris should be monitored the way hazardous waste currently is.

The revised regulations are due out early next year.  


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