Brookhaven Town officials have denied the landfill caused health problems...

Brookhaven Town officials have denied the landfill caused health problems for people in the area. Credit: Newsday/Steve Pfost

An East Patchogue college student who was diagnosed with thyroid cancer has filed a $2 million lawsuit against Brookhaven Town, blaming her illness on "toxic and noxious substances and odors" emanating from the town's landfill.

The lawsuit, filed Wednesday in State Supreme Court in Suffolk County, is at least the third filed against the town in recent years by staff and former students of the Frank P. Long Intermediate School in Bellport.

In the most recent suit, Skye Dodge, 19, said she was diagnosed with cancer last May. She attended fourth and fifth grades at the school from 2014 to 2016. 

The lawsuit attributes her illness to "the town's failure to take reasonable steps to prevent the toxic and noxious substances and odors" from the landfill.

“It’s part of the unfortunate pattern of what is happening with the school and the number of students and teachers that have become ill,” Dodge's attorney, E. Christopher Murray, of Uniondale, said Friday in an interview. Murray also is the attorney for the dozens of plaintiffs in the other two lawsuits filed against Brookhaven. 

“[Town officials] were not careful in securing this ash as they were required to do so,” Murray said.

Brookhaven Town Attorney Annette Eaderesto said the town does not comment on litigation.

Town officials have denied the landfill caused health problems for people in the area.

The 50-year-old, 192-acre landfill — originally a state facility transferred to the town about 40 years ago — stores ash from incinerators and waste from construction sites.

The town has been cited in recent years by federal and state authorities for violations of odor and emissions control regulations at the landfill. A Newsday investigation last year found Covanta — the New Jersey-based incineration plant operator that uses the Brookhaven facility — couldn’t be sure the ash it was dumping there wasn't hazardous.

The state Department of Environmental Conservation in February cited Covanta for hundreds of violations at the company's Westbury facility. DEC and Covanta officials are negotiating a penalty, Newsday has reported.

The state has not found widespread ash pollution from the Brookhaven landfill or a link from any landfill exposure to adverse health impacts, Newsday has reported.

Brookhaven Supervisor Dan Panico said in January that the landfill would close in 2027 or early 2028, when it is expected to run out of capacity.

About two dozen Frank P. Long staff, parents of students and neighbors collectively sued the town in 2019, alleging they suffered ailments ranging from throat irritation to cancer resulting from emissions at the dump. The lawsuit sought unspecified monetary damages.

A Patchogue woman last year filed a wrongful-death lawsuit against the South Country Central School District and Brookhaven Town, citing their “negligence” in failing to protect Frank P. Long Intermediate School students from what they allege is toxic air emanating from the nearby landfill. Murray is also representing the woman in the lawsuit.

Murray said those cases are in varying stages of the discovery process, where plaintiffs seek information from defendants. He said he has asked the town for reports and complaints related to the landfill and records of the material stored there.

Murray said Dodge, who attends college in North Carolina, has responded well to treatment and that doctors are "very hopeful" for a full recovery.

“She’s doing OK," he said. "She’s going through treatment. So far the treatment has been positive.”

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