State, local investigators inspect a Deer Park dumping site

State and local investigators examined an illegal dump site in Babylon that sits atop a sensitive wetland area and drains into the Great South Bay. The Babylon site is one of several dumping tips authorities say they have received as a result of an investigation in Islip Town, complicating the task for investigators as they try to get to the bottom of who is responsible for dumping an estimated 32,000 tons of asbestos-laden debris at Roberto Clemente Park in Brentwood. (Credit: James Carbone)

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Investigators in the criminal probe of illegal dumping in Islip Monday inspected a Deer Park site where officials say debris was dumped into a sensitive wetland that forms part of the watershed into the Great South Bay.

Detectives are trying to determine if the site -- at the rear of 175 Brook Ave. -- is related to the dumping they are investigating at Islip Town's Roberto Clemente Park. An estimated 32,000 tons of debris, some containing high levels of asbestos, was dumped in the park.

Babylon Town officials visited the Deer Park property, which backs on to Sampawams Creek, early Friday after receiving a tip, said Richard Groh, chief analyst with Babylon's Department of Environmental Control. The town subsequently referred the dumping to the Suffolk County district attorney's office, which is investigating illegal dumping in Islip, and the state Department of Environmental Conservation.

"On its face, you definitely have a major wetlands violation there," Groh said. "It appears whoever did this is dumping materials right into the wetland and the sediment from that is washing directly into the creek . . . if it's shown that material is contaminated, that will make this even worse."

The creek is a protected wetlands area under New York State DEC Freshwater Wetlands Regulations, which make it a civil violation to place any fill in the area, according to officials. If the fill is found to contain a regulated solid waste material, such as construction and demolition, or hazardous waste, other violations could be pursued, the officials said.

Babylon officials said the owner of the 6-acre property died last year and since then it appeared the owner's daughter rented out the space to multiple tenants. The property records list April Masie as an owner. Efforts to reach her were unsuccessful.

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Groh said the town took a sample Friday and has referred the matter to state authorities. An investigator from the state DEC's environmental crimes bureau and detectives involved in the Islip criminal probe visited the town to get information about the site and then went to the Brook Avenue property Monday morning.

When town officials visited Friday, they said, two heavy soil sifters were parked a short distance from a 300-foot berm that had been placed along the eastern property line, bordering the wetland.

The berm, processed fill grayish in color with pieces of rock, concrete and broken brick visible, had been dumped over a back fence within the past two weeks, Groh said. He estimated "hundreds, if not thousands, of cubic yards" had been dumped, sloping steeply at least 15 feet toward the creek. Trees on the wetland side could be seen Monday partially buried by the fill.

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One of the soil sifters standing nearby was rented by Atlas Asphalt -- a paving and road construction company based a few doors south on a neighboring Brook Avenue property, Groh said.

Attempts by the town to contact Ron Cianciulli, the owner of Atlas Asphalt, were unsuccessful, officials said. Cianciulli did not return multiple calls for comment Monday.

"We're grateful for the tip we received and extremely grateful for the professionalism of the state DEC and Suffolk DA in helping us get to the bottom of this terrible dumping so people can be held accountable for their actions," said town Supervisor Richard Schaffer.

The Babylon site is one of several dumping tips authorities say they have received as a result of the Islip probe, complicating the task for investigators as they try to get to the bottom of who is responsible for the dumping at Roberto Clemente Park in Brentwood.

Debris at the Islip Town park appears to have come from a range of construction and demolition sites, according to people close to the investigation. Some of the fill on the soccer fields has been identified as originating from the North Shore of the island due to its specific glacial till.

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Investigators have also described seeing what appeared as "a sea of diamonds" -- the setting sun refracting off sparkling pieces of broken glass on one recent visit.

Another portion of fill on the surface of the park contains hundreds of heels of shoes, leading investigators to conclude that part of the dumping originated from a footwear warehouse factory. Yet another portion contains the spoils of smelting or iron working -- the presence of crag -- together with fire brick of the kind used to line furnaces, kilns and fireplaces, indicating it may have come from a demolished ironmongery, the sources said.

Suffolk County District Attorney Thomas Spota has said the debris in the Islip park contains "high levels of asbestos" and had multiple origins, including New York City and Long Island, but that more will be known once a full analysis of samples taken from the park is completed perhaps as soon as next week.

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