Brookhaven Town officials want Yaphank site cleaned up and not capped

Brookhaven Town Supervisor Ed Romaine said a decision Brookhaven Town Supervisor Ed Romaine said a decision by the state to place caps over a contaminated soil at a former Long Island Rail Road dump in Yaphank could pose a threat to the community. Romaine is seen here at a Feb. 20, 2013 press conference. Photo Credit: Ana Maria Rico

advertisement | advertise on newsday

Brookhaven Town officials have criticized a recommendation by the state to place caps over contaminated soil at a former Long Island Rail Road dump in Yaphank.

The state Department of Environmental Conservation last week recommended installing stone, concrete and asphalt caps at the 4-acre site, which had been used by the LIRR as an unauthorized dump for about three decades before it was closed in the 1970s.

Brookhaven Supervisor Edward P. Romaine said the plan was inadequate and could pose "a serious threat to the community" because groundwater may be polluted by zinc, arsenic, lead and copper from soil at the site near River Road.

The parcel is in a groundwater protection area about 500 feet from the Carmans River.

"A totally unacceptable decision by the DEC and the Long Island Rail Road not to clean up a contaminated site has me greatly concerned about the Carmans River watershed and the safety of the homes in the area," Romaine said.

Asked about possible legal action to have the DEC decision reversed, Romaine said, "It is disappointing and discouraging, and we are as a municipality considering all of our options in this matter."

advertisement | advertise on newsday

The plan is virtually identical to one that was panned by town officials when the DEC first proposed it in February.

The DEC said last week that 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."

@Newsday

The LIRR in 2002 agreed to clean up the site as part of the DEC's Voluntary Cleanup Program.

In a statement emailed to Newsday, LIRR spokesman Salvatore Arena said the railroad "looks forward to remediating the Yaphank site. . . . We plan to work with the NYSDEC and adjacent property owners to finalize the design and implement such remediation."

Town officials and environmental advocates said capping the site is insufficient and said contaminated soil should be excavated and carted away.

"The contamination should be removed, not ignored," said Richard Amper, executive director of the Long Island Pine Barrens Society.

Town Councilwoman Connie Kepert said the DEC plan is "obviously inadequate. . . . These are contaminants. We certainly do not want them migrating off site."

You also may be interested in: