Suffolk County and state law enforcement announced Wednesday that they are searching for two people who dumped barrels of antifreeze and windshield wiper fluid in a wooded area of Manorville, and that several arrests had been made in recent weeks on illegal-dumping charges in the central pine barrens region.
At a news conference in Ridge with members of four law enforcement agencies, leaders of the Central Pine Barrens Commission said they are looking for a man and a woman who dumped eight barrels of toxic material near the North Service Road of the Long Island Expressway on May 20 before fleeing in a white F-150 truck with an extended cab.
Images of the suspects were caught by area surveillance.
Pine Barrens Commission executive director John Pavacic said the automotive materials are toxic to wildlife and can contain heavy metals that circulate in car engines.
If the materials leak into the ground and penetrate the soil, they could also contaminate the county’s sole source of drinking water, Brookhaven Town Supervisor Edward P. Romaine said.
“When chemicals and other contaminants are dumped . . . they affect our water supply,” Romaine said. “And water is not stagnant. Underground water travels either to the bay or to the Sound and it affects whole plumes that cover miles and miles.”
In the past two months, five people and a carting company have been charged with dumping household and demolition debris in the protected 105,000 acreage of the pine barrens.
On May 19, State Police observed two men in a wooded area near Speonk dumping toilets and a large dump truck of leaves, Pavacic said. In mid-June, one of the men returned to the scene and dumped a load of brush, he said.
William Rodriguez-Ortiz of Speonk was charged with two counts of dumping construction debris and leaves, two counts of driving off-road on public property and one count of dumping brush. Byron Garcia-Perez of Speonk was charged with one count of dumping construction debris.
On May 25, household waste was discovered by state forest rangers in Pine Barrens State Forest in Middle Island, officials said. The debris was traced to Christian Manzi of Selden, who was charged with depositing rubbish on state land and forced to return to the site to clean up the waste, officials said.
On June 15, rangers discovered a large pile of demolition debris on state land adjacent to a business in Rocky Point. The debris was traced to a Ridge resident who had hired Rocco Schuster, owner of R&G Dumpsters, Inc. in Sound Beach, officials said.
The homeowner, who was not identified, and R&G Dumpsters were issued tickets for the unlawful disposal of solid waste and dumping in the Pine Barrens, officials said.
On July 5, the Suffolk County sheriff’s office charged Calvin Cobb of Shirley with unlawful disposal of yard waste after he was caught on surveillance dumping on a dead end in Manorville, Pavacic said.
Efforts to reach the suspects Wednesday were not successful. A message left with R&G Dumpsters was not returned.
Pavacic said the towns of Brookhaven, Southampton and Riverhead prosecute several hundred illegal dumping cases in the pine barrens each year.
Pavacic said the perpetrators, looking to avoid disposal fees, “despoil” the region “for their selfish purposes.”
Romaine said state and local law enforcement are united to halt illegal dumping and prosecute offenders.
“If you have an empty road, or a road ending, and someone that wants to avoid properly paying to get rid of disposal, they’ll dump it right in the woods,” Romaine said. “This is a common, common problem.”
Anyone with information about the Manorville dumping can contact Suffolk County Crime Stoppers, which is offering a $5,000 reward, at 800-220-TIPS. All calls will remain anonymous.
With Laura Blasey