About 1,000 cubic yards of contaminated material buried at a subdivision for six veterans' families in Islandia must be carted off Long Island as part of the first state-approved cleanup plan for sites in Islip under criminal investigation for illegal dumping.
The requirement that the material leave the Island was ordered by the state Department of Environmental Conservation after sampling showed it exceeds state standards for acceptable levels of contamination in soil.
Officials also confirmed Wednesday the 3 1/2 acre subdivision at Veterans Way will be the scene of yet more testing, supervised by the DEC, to address residents' fears over the extent of toxins at the dump site.
Mitch Pally, CEO of the Long Island Builders Institute, whose charitable arm built the homes, said the cost of the cleanup was not yet known but it could exceed $200,000. The institute has said it will foot the removal bill, in hopes of receiving restitution through later legal action if a criminal probe by the Suffolk County district attorney results in convictions.
Two weeks ago, District Attorney Thomas Spota convened a special grand jury to further probe the dumping at the subdivision and at other sites in Islip.
Revelations of dumping at Veterans Way came after about 50,000 tons of contaminated fill was found spread onto Roberto Clemente Park in Brentwood. Eyewitnesses to the Veterans Way dumping told detectives of seeing lime-green "Datre" trucks arriving at a 40-foot-deep hole as the site was under development last year and watching construction and demolition debris being dumped there, Newsday reported in May. A consultant hired by Spota's office took 20 soil-boring samples for analysis.
That testing focused on the now-landscaped berm atop the former hole, but tests were also taken at the front and back of each of the six homes, with two further samples as background measurements.
Spota said in June analysis of the berm samples showed levels of contaminants deemed both "hazardous" and "acutely hazardous" under state environmental conservation law. Among the contaminants found: the now-banned pesticides DDT and chlordane, and metals such as chromium, cobalt, nickel, zinc and lead. Some of the substances are known to cause cancer or brain damage if ingested in sufficient amounts. The 12 samples from the front and back of each of the homes did not test positive for contaminants, Spota said.
Pally said the institute's consulting engineering firm, Nelson & Pope, is in the final stages of preparing for the start of the cleanup plan, with bids not yet finalized for a hauling firm that would take the material from Islandia to a permitted landfill in Pennsylvania. Work is expected to start in the next two to three weeks.
"There is a lot of hiring to do -- a firm to get the stuff out of the berm, a trucking company to take it to its final destination and someone to bring in the clean fill, and do the compacting and landscaping to restore it as it should have been," said Pally.
Of the further testing he said: "We are taking the concerns of six homeowners seriously and are in discussions with the DEC about when those can start."
DEC officials said should the additional testing yield further contamination, the cleanup plan could change.
The institute charity that built the subdivision was headed by Tom Datre Sr. Interviewed in May, Datre said he would stake his reputation on the quality of fill brought to Veterans Way. He said he saw some of the fill arrive. "It was clean sand with boulders," he said.