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Contractors at Veterans Way fill 25-foot-deep hole with clean fill

Contractors are seen working at Veterans Way in

Contractors are seen working at Veterans Way in Islandia on Tuesday morning, Dec. 16, 2014. Credit: James Carbone

Contractors on Monday began pouring clean fill into the 25-foot-deep hole dug after 1,860 cubic yards of contaminated debris was removed over the past several weeks at Veterans Way in Islandia.

While the contaminated fill was removed and trucked to a legal dump site in Pennsylvania, additional testing -- sanctioned by the state Department of Environmental Conservation -- around homes at the site was conducted by Melville-based engineering firm Nelson, Pope & Voorhis LLC, after homeowners were concerned initial testing was inadequate.

The firm is now analyzing the new data and comparing them to the first round of testing done in May by Enviroscience Consultants Inc., a Ronkonkoma firm hired by Suffolk County District Attorney Thomas Spota's office, according to Mitch Pally, chief executive of the Long Island Builders Institute. The institute's charitable arm built the homes in 2013 for returning Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans.

The two sets of sample results have some differences, Pally said, and experts are working to determine what those contrasts mean. A report of their findings is expected to be done by the end of this week and sent to the DEC for review, Pally said.

"I assume some additional testing will be done unless there's an explanation as to why there's some anomalies," Pally said. "Is it the location [of the testing]? Is it the depth? Whatever it is, that's what they're trying to figure out, where and why there may be some differences."

A spokesman for Spota has defended the first set of tests taken in the front yards and backyards of the homes, which showed contaminants but at levels far below acceptable DEC levels.

Samples taken last week from the bottom of the pit where the berm used to be along Motor Parkway came back clear of toxins, Pally said, which allowed the backfilling to begin. That leg of the remediation project should be finished Tuesday, with landscaping and a new retaining wall to be erected in the coming weeks.

Peter Creedon, attorney for five of the six homeowners, said he is "not surprised" the new testing differs from the original results. He said his own testing conducted by a "reputable firm" months ago at the homeowners' request showed contaminants in the soil around the homes, prompting the newest probe.

Tom Datre Sr., a hefty political donor in the Town of Islip GOP and Conservative parties and former LIBI member, along with his son, Tom Datre Jr., were indicted this month for their alleged roles in the dumping at that site.

Veterans Way is one of four locations identified by Spota since Aprilas illegal dumping sites in and around the Town of Islip.

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