The state Department of Environmental Conservation has again visited a Yaphank site where potentially contaminated debris has been found, according to letters submitted in court this week.
DEC staff characterized the debris as "slag," or burned garbage, Brookhaven Town's retained attorney, Robert Calica of Garden City, said in one letter.
However, the owner of the site, Brookhaven Rail Terminal and its corporate partners, disagreed sharply with the town about the nature of the debris viewed by DEC staff during a visit Monday.StoryJudge to DEC: Probe debris at LI rail terminalStoryTown: Debris poses threat to water supplyStoryTown demands $15M over 'destruction'
The site owner's attorney, Yanaton Aronoff of Manhattan, in his letter called the debris "nonnative materials."
The DEC has acknowledged that it had "an enforcement action" at the site in 2012 and went to the site again in 2014 about "contaminated materials." It has declined to provide further details, and it did not reply to requests for comment Thursday.
The Suffolk County district attorney's office has confirmed it is investigating a complaint received about the site from the DEC, though it has declined to say what the referral was about.
Brookhaven Town contends that the debris is piled next to craters formed when the owners improperly mined sand, and that rainwater is washing contaminants from the debris into the holes over the aquifer that holds Long Island's supply of drinking water.
The attorneys made their comments in letters submitted Wednesday and Thursday to Magistrate Judge Gary R. Brown, in U.S. District Court in Central Islip, who is hearing the town's lawsuit against the terminal over alleged dumping and illegal sand mining.
Aronoff's letter on Wednesday said the terminal had "received a communication from the town concerning settlement" and asked the judge to schedule a settlement conference in court.
Calica replied in a letter Thursday that there was no offer to settle because there were still outstanding issues, and that the site owners "are continuing to engage in deceptive practices" by refusing to acknowledge their obligation to remove the debris.
The town claims in its federal lawsuit that the terminal operators dumped, or allowed to be dumped, the type of debris that would commonly be found in landfills.
The terminal said it has tested the material, but it has declined to make the results public.
Judge Brown barred the terminal last June from further sand mining on the site because of the risk to the aquifer and rejected its claim that it was only expanding its rail system.