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Long IslandSuffolk

DEC wants Islip to make changes to park cleanup plan

The gate at the west entrance to Roberto

The gate at the west entrance to Roberto Clemente Park is chained shut on Thursday, May 29, 2014. Photo Credit: Newsday / John Paraskevas

Islip Town will have to drill additional wells to monitor the groundwater as it cleans up tens of thousands of tons of contaminated fill dumped at Roberto Clemente Park in Brentwood, according to the state agency overseeing the town's cleanup.

In a Nov. 26 letter, the state Department of Environmental Conservation outlined its comments on Islip's 250-page remediation plan to remove an estimated 50,000 tons of contaminated dirt and debris from the park. The document must be approved by the DEC before work can begin.

The five-page letter asks the town to submit a revision to its work plan.

While the DEC approved the town's proposal to drill three test wells for monitoring the groundwater -- at the north end of the park, south of the recharge basin and southeast of the soccer fields -- the agency, citing "a review of the groundwater monitoring data," now will require an additional two wells to test the groundwater downstream of the areas where the fill was dumped, both before and after it is removed, according to the letter.

DEC Regional Engineer Ajay Shah, who signed the letter, said the agency also will require "at least" two additional rounds of water sampling after the cleanup is complete.

Inez Birbiglia, deputy town parks commissioner, said in a written statement that the town had not had time to adequately review the letter, since it arrived just before the Thanksgiving holiday. "We have not had the benefit of properly reviewing and considering the points of the letter, and it would be inappropriate to comment at this time," Birbiglia wrote.

In addition to the groundwater requirements, the agency also asked Islip officials to put a finer point on exactly which areas of debris at the park will be disposed of at the town's Blydenburgh landfill in Hauppauge and which is more contaminated and will be shipped off Long Island. The DEC wants the town to mark a diagram of the park to show both areas.

The town has said three-quarters of the fill will be disposed of at Blydenburgh, with the rest disposed of off the Island.

The DEC also requested that the town increase the number of dirt samples it plans to take once the fill is gone "to ensure all contaminated material has been removed," and increase the number of air-monitoring stations to ensure that dust from the remediation does not leave the park.

Town officials had hoped to begin cleaning up the property last month, two months after submitting the remediation plan to the DEC on Sept. 5.

Islip's town board had authorized up to $6 million in bonds to pay for the remediation, although some town officials believe the costs could go higher.

Separately, the Suffolk County Legislature is expected to take up a bill that would direct the county's Department of Health Services to conduct its own groundwater testing for toxic chemicals at the park.

The legislation, sponsored by legislators Monica R. Martinez (D-Brentwood), Kara Hahn (D-Setauket) and Thomas Barraga (R-West Islip), also would require the health department to inform the Legislature within 45 days if groundwater testing is needed at the other sites where dumping is known to have occurred: a six-home development for veterans in Islandia, a vacant lot at the corner of Sage Street and Islip Avenue in Central Islip, and a wetlands area off Brook Avenue in Deer Park on the Babylon-Islip border.

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