Brookhaven plans lawsuit against LIRR over old Yaphank dumping site
Brookhaven Town will file a lawsuit against the Long Island Rail Road over the railroad's plan to contain contaminated soil at a former Yaphank dump site by installing stone, concrete and asphalt caps.
Town Supervisor Edward P. Romaine plans to announce the lawsuit at a news conference Tuesday at Town Hall in Farmingville. A town spokesman said the suit will be filed in federal District Court in Central Islip.
The capping plan at the 4-acre site on River Road has been endorsed by the state Department of Environmental Conservation, but town officials have criticized it, arguing that contaminated soil should be removed instead.
Town officials have said the capping plan could pose "a serious threat to the community" because groundwater could be polluted by zinc, arsenic, lead and copper from soil at the site.
The yard has been found to contain high levels of 29 contaminants, town officials said. The parcel is in a groundwater protection area about 500 feet from the Carmans River.
The LIRR in 2002 agreed to clean up the site as part of the DEC's Voluntary Cleanup Program.
Romaine said Monday he was surprised by the state's support of the capping plan.
"We said from the beginning we weren't in favor. We're opposed . . . and I want [the site] cleaned up to the highest level possible. The list of contaminants is astounding," Romaine said. "There has been no attempt by the railroad to protect the residents or the existing environment."
In a statement Monday, Metropolitan Transportation Authority spokesman Salvatore Arena said: "LIRR has not received a copy of any lawsuit, and we do not comment on active litigation. We do note that the plan to perform remediation at this location has been approved by the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation."
The planned suit comes on the heels of the state's May recommendation that the LIRR, which had used the site as a dump for about three decades before it was closed in the 1970s, only had to cap the site.
The DEC has said covering the contaminated soil would "serve as an effective low permeable cap to cover the portion of the site that has exhibited the highest metal concentrations based on the completed investigations. The cap and cover will isolate the contamination from human or environmental exposure."
Romaine is expected to be joined at the news conference by Richard Amper, executive director of Long Island Pine Barrens Society.
East Yaphank Civic Association president Mike Giacomaro, Johan McConnell of the South Yaphank Civic Association and Brookhaven chief environmental analyst Anthony Graves will also be on hand, officials said.