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Southampton, activists decry DEC inaction after court rules agency erred in issuing Sand Land permit in 2019

Mining operations are continuing at the Sand Land

Mining operations are continuing at the Sand Land in Noyac despite a May court ruling that said the state Department of Environmental Conservation should not have renewed its permit in 2019. Credit: Doug Kuntz

Mining operations are continuing at the controversial Sand Land in Noyac several days after a panel of Appellate Court judges ruled the state should not have renewed its permit in 2019.

Security footage taken Monday from adjacent properties shows what appears to be three state Department of Environmental Conservation officials on the scene for several minutes as a payloader carrying sand traverses the property. There is an estimated $2.2 million worth of sand sitting on the mine floor, according to analysis done by scientists working for the neighbors.

Sand Land representatives did not respond to requests for comment.

Southampton Town Supervisor Jay Schneiderman said the town sent a cease-and-desist letter Tuesday to the operators, but said it is difficult for the town to do much else.

"The town is doing everything it can," Schneiderman said. "We just fought a lengthy, expensive lawsuit. We flipped the Supreme Court decision. I don’t think anyone would want to enforce it [the decision] more than the town."

Southampton Town and others took the DEC to court in 2019 over the issuance of a permit allowing Sand Land to dig 40 feet deeper and operate for another eight years.

A state Supreme Court justice in September ruled the permit was valid, but the town appealed and a May 27 ruling by a panel in the Appellate Division of the state Supreme Court, Third Judicial Department, overturned the lower court decision.

The DEC last week said it is reviewing the court decision and declined Newsday’s request to offer additional details this week. The mine operators could potentially file a petition to appeal the ruling with the Court of Appeals.

But environmentalists and civic leaders are calling for the town’s code enforcement division to padlock the facility immediately.

"I think they should put a chain around the entrance and stop every activity there," said Noyac Civic Council president Elena Loreto. "What if I wanted to make a sand pit out of my backyard? How long before somebody came and stopped me?"

Other local activists are similarly dismayed.

"We’re flabbergasted that the DEC is in such a strong partnership with the polluter that they’re failing to act," said Adrienne Esposito, executive director of the Farmingdale-based Citizens Campaign for the Environment. "This is why the DEC is known as denying every concern."

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