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State examines MTA asbestos waste at Islip Terrace home

Oil tanks, acid vats, trailers and containers of

Oil tanks, acid vats, trailers and containers of asbestos are some of the MTA construction debris items left behind in Andrew Sirico's Islip Terrace backyard.   Credit: Johnny Milano

State environmental workers and private contractors on Tuesday assessed the contents of trailers containing MTA asbestos waste in the yard of an Islip Terrace home.

A target date to begin the work has yet to be set but the occupant, Andrew Sirico, said he was told officials must devise a cleanup plan within 10 days.

That’s not soon enough for Sirico, who is renting the home with his three children and has been complaining about it for months, he said. The property includes a large yard with various waste material and includes a frequently used garage just a few feet from where the large containers containing hundreds of bags of asbestos waste have been sitting for what appears to be years. The material contains records indicating it was removed from MTA construction jobs around New York City in 2016.

"You mean someone’s not coming to start tomorrow?" Sirico said he told the contingent of state and private contractors, who came armed with clipboards and cameras Tuesday. The contractors told him, he said, they had 10 more days to come up with a plan.

That plan must be approved by the state, the landlord and Sirico, he said.

But Robert Dooley, an attorney for landlord and property owner, Diana Honeycutt, said he was unaware of any specific timeline for the cleanup plan, or the cleanup itself, but said, "We are working as quickly as we can."

The landlord is reviewing "multiple estimates" by outside contractors to do the work, Dooley said, which will require approvals from the state Department of Labor for the on-site work and the Department of Environmental Conservation for transporting it.

"There's no way I'm going to send someone in there [to start the work] without the Department of Labor saying whatever you're doing is reasonable," Dooley said.

Only two of the four containers on the property are believed to contain asbestos waste, Dooley said, and those will be "addressed and removed" as quickly and safely as possible. Other waste in the yard, including containers of waste oil and construction materials, "we're not addressing immediately."

Asked if any of the material presented a health risk in its present state, he said, "I believe if someone believes there was an immediate health risk, someone would notify me immediately, and no one has notified me of that."

The landlord is continuing with the process of evicting Sirico and his family, Dooley said, because he put new locks on the trailers, in violation of his rent agreement. Sirico said the trailers had not been secured, and he put on locks to make sure his children and others didn’t open or enter the trailers.

The state Department of Environmental Conservation, which is overseeing the site, confirmed it attended Tuesday a "site visit while the property owner’s contractor performed the assessment of materials on the property."

The agency, which did not provide a timeline for cleanup, noted the visit was "in addition to an earlier visit by DEC’s Law Enforcement Officers as part of our ongoing investigation and our commitment to rigorously overseeing the proper cleanup of this property to ensure protection of public health and the environment."

Sirico said he also has been contacted by the Suffolk District Attorney’s office about the material. "I’m sure they are going to be on top of it now full force," Sirico said.

The district attorney's office did not confirm or deny the existence of investigations. But Sheila Kelly, a spokeswoman for Suffolk District Attorney Timothy Sini said, "We have been in contact with the homeowner and are taking all appropriate action."

Sirico said he first discovered what was inside the trailers sometime after moving in in May and asked the landlord to move the large containers. He discovered hundreds of bags marked as containing dangerous asbestos, as well as a completely removed asbestos containment room, in trailers that were not airtight.

Sirico broached the notion that the contractor hired to clean up the facility may have to build a "containment site" 20 feet around the trailers to make certain asbestos fibers don’t escape from the trailers while material is being secured for removal.

"It’s loose debris," he said. "A lot of the bags are open. You just can’t haul away loose debris with the wind going through it."

He added, "At what point do I go back to peaceful living?"

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