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New groundwater-monitoring wells for Islip's tainted Roberto Clemente Park

Preparation starts as additional groundwater monitoring wells are

Preparation starts as additional groundwater monitoring wells are installed inside Roberto Clemente Park in Brentwood on Tuesday, Jan. 6, 2015. Credit: James Carbone

Work on two new groundwater-monitoring wells began at Roberto Clemente Park Tuesday -- in addition to three installed in September -- following a state Department of Environmental Conservation directive sent to Islip Town officials six weeks ago.

The new wells -- one at the west end of the park and another at the southeast corner -- will capture water flowing downstream from where some of the estimated 50,000 tons of toxin-laced materials were dumped on former soccer fields, according to Greg Menegio, department manager with Enviroscience Consultants Inc.

Enviroscience, of Ronkonkoma, was hired by the Town of Islip last spring to aid in remediation plan preparations for the park.

The DEC requested the new wells to test groundwater in different sampling intervals, at 30 feet and 60 feet, Menegio said.

"This is really the opportunity to take a look prior to the removal to try and get a good understanding of the groundwater at the property at this time and moving forward," he said.

The samples will be screened for pesticides, herbicides and other toxins. Harmful contaminants such as asbestos, lead, copper, zinc and cobalt have already been detected in the debris.

Clemente Park is one of four dumping sites identified in and around Islip Town -- including a subdivision for veterans in Islandia, a sensitive wetland in Deer Park and a private lot in Central Islip -- by Suffolk County District Attorney Thomas Spota. In early December, six men were indicted on various charges.

The new wells, costing the town about $40,000, are being installed by Land, Air, Water Environmental Services Inc. based in Center Moriches. Enviroscience will handle the testing. Samples will be taken this week and sent to York Analytical Laboratory of Stratford, Connecticut, for analysis, with results expected in a few weeks, Menegio said.

In August, the DEC approved the first round of groundwater monitoring wells. Those three wells -- one at the north end of the park acting as a control, another just southeast of the soccer fields and one at the south end below the recharge basin -- were installed in late September. The results from the initial round of testing at those wells came up clean.

Town officials had wanted the first trucks filled with debris on the way out of the park starting at the end of November. Now, with the cleanup yet to begin, some town officials have criticized the DEC for not approving a remediation plan.

"The DEC is creating roadblocks for the town. . . . There are hoops the DEC is making us jump through that we don't think legally we should have to do," said Councilwoman Trish Bergin Weichbrodt.

The town submitted its 250-page remediation plan for the park on Sept. 5. Town officials said they expect to send a revised plan to the state by week's end. The groundwater monitoring wells must be in place and running, and the full remediation plan must be approved by the state DEC before removal work can begin.

The state DEC did not respond to a request for comment.

Islip has already spent more than $300,000 on remediation planning and installing the groundwater wells. The town board has authorized up to $6 million in bonds to pay for the cleanup.

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