Roberto Clemente Park sampling to be done by environmental consultant

According to investigators, an estimated 32,000 tons of

According to investigators, an estimated 32,000 tons of asbestos-laden debris was dumped in Roberto Clemente Park in Brentwood, seen here on Monday, May 5, 2014. Photo Credit: Newsday / Thomas A. Ferrara

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The Suffolk County district attorney has hired an environmental consulting firm to determine if there are contaminants at Roberto Clemente Park -- the Islip Town facility where allegations of illegal dumping are under investigation.

Suffolk District Attorney Thomas Spota began investigating after the state Department of Environmental Conservation received a March complaint of illegal dumping involving construction and demolition material in a low-lying, undeveloped area in the western half of the Brentwood park, a source said.

On April 21, Spota's office issued a subpoena seeking town records relating to construction activities at the park dating to last June.

Enviroscience Consultants Inc., a Ronkonkoma environmental consulting firm specializing in asbestos, mold- and lead-related issues, indoor air quality, subsurface investigations, environmental remediation and industrial hygiene has conducted preliminary work and will carry out in-depth sampling for the district attorney, sources said.

It is hoped the testing will enable investigators to trace the debris' origins and if it contained contaminants, sources say.

The park in Brentwood remains closed, effectively a crime scene, as the district attorney continues its probe into how construction/demolition debris -- fill that included pieces of rebar, wire, broken glass, tile and chunks of brick and wood -- came to be deposited at the park.

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The Islip Town Board will Tuesday hold a news conference on the status of the park. All four board members are expected to attend and issue a statement, but will not take questions, town spokeswoman Inez Birbiglia said.

The investigation is set to cost the town even as the inquiry into who is responsible continues.

Last evening, two resolutions were added to the agenda for Tuesday's town board meeting: an authorization to spend $192,500 to hire Enviroscience Consulting to prepare a remediation plan when it comes time to clean up the park and to assist with cleanup oversight and regulatory monitoring.

The town board will also vote Tuesday to allow the town attorney to "prosecute all legal claims against any and all corporate entities and individuals responsible for placement of hazardous materials at Roberto Clemente Park."

The disclosure comes as councilman Anthony Senft, a Conservative who is liaison for parks, is running for State Senate in a hotly contested race against environmentalist Adrienne Esposito.

In a letter dated last Thursday, Esposito asked the DEC to make sure testing for heavy metals, petroleum products and asbestos is done at the park.

Asbestos contamination, she said, is "frequently found in construction and demolition debris."

She added asbestos "can be the driving reason for illegal disposal as part of a treacherous scheme to avoid the cost of safe disposal."

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Industry sources say the going rate for legitimately hauling and disposing of the estimated 6,000 cubic yards of construction and demolition debris dumped at the park ranges between $110,000 and $200,000 -- depending on whether it's priced by weight or cubic yards, a choice the hauler can make. If, however, toxic waste is among the debris, the price skyrockets.

The park site has been equipped with video surveillance since a gang-related brutal attack there in 2009 and footage was among evidence the district attorney subpoenaed on April 21. The town had until Monday to comply with the subpoena.

Two days after the subpoena was issued, state and county authorities asked the town to close the park "to allow them to conduct a full investigation into alleged misuse of the public park by a private entity," the town said in a news release April 23.

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