Environmentalists: Sand Land still operating despite state order

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A controversial sand mine on the East End is still operating just days after the state ordered all mining activity on the site to stop.

Earlier this week, state Department of Environmental Conservation issued an order requiring mining activities at Sand Land in Noyac to cease and reclamation activities to begin.

Operations, however, continued Thursday at the mine. The DEC says that's because they have given the operators until Oct. 31 to remove and clean up all solid waste from the site. Groups that have been fighting to close the mine for years say that is not what is happening.

MORE: DEC halts Suffolk sand mining operation over groundwater concerns

According to the town of Southampton and local environmentalists, several illegal activities are taking place at the sand mine – including the apparent sale and processing of mulch and topsoil. Some residents say mulch is still being processed.

Bob DeLuca, of Friends for the East End, told News 12 that inaction on the part of the state sends the wrong message to the owner and the public. He says state and town officials need to get together face to face to decide how they are going to pursue enforcement on the property.

“There needs to be an injunction to stop the polluting activity that's still going on. If those things can happen, the rest of the process can play out, and we will have an opportunity to prevent further contamination of the aquifer,” says DeLuca.

The DEC says it is “continuing to use all legal tools available to address concerns over the facility's continued operation and will take all actions necessary to ensure the public and the environment are protected." 

A recent report by the Suffolk County Health Department determined that the 50-acre site has contaminated the groundwater below with heavy metals and toxins.

In a statement, Brian Matthews, an attorney for Sand Land, says, "The property operates in the manner that is permitted" and that it strongly disagrees with the DEC’s conclusions.

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