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Islip takes first step in cleanup of Roberto Clemente Park toxic dumping

Roberto Clemente Park in Brentwood, closed Sept. 23,

Roberto Clemente Park in Brentwood, closed Sept. 23, 2014. Photo Credit: Newsday / J. Conrad Williams Jr.

The first step in the cleanup of an estimated 50,000 tons of toxin-laced debris in Roberto Clemente Park in Brentwood will begin Wednesday with the drilling of three test wells to monitor the area's groundwater, Islip Town officials said.

The state Department of Environmental Conservation late last month approved the town's groundwater-testing well plan to install the wells, which will be monitored before, during and after the cleanup. Underground utilities at the park were marked over the past two days, said Inez Birbiglia, deputy parks commissioner for the town.

The park is one of multiple sites being investigated by Suffolk County District Attorney Thomas Spota, who convened a special grand jury two weeks ago into illegal dumping. Last spring, Spota launched a criminal probe into the dumping at the park and three other sites within Islip Town.

Residents surrounding the park are on public water, officials have said, and the drinking water is safe for use.

The wells will be installed by Land, Air, Water Environmental Services Inc., a Center Moriches firm. They are meant "to establish baseline groundwater conditions and to evaluate whether there may be significant impacts to the groundwater beneath the site and its immediate vicinity from the illegal dumping," according to the town's consultant, Enviroscience Consultants Inc. of Ronkonkoma.

One well -- to be locked and capped with manholes -- will be put at the north end of the park, another south of the recharge basin, and a third southeast of the former soccer fields.

Toxins such as asbestos, lead, copper, zinc and cobalt have been detected in the debris. Starting next week, two rounds of groundwater samples will be taken through Oct. 10, town officials said. The samples will be screened for pesticides, herbicides and other toxins.

The town submitted its 250-page remediation plan to the state DEC on Sept. 5 with a request for an expedited review and is awaiting the agency's response to begin removal of the debris, officials said. The groundwater testing must be complete and full remediation plan approved before the removal of debris can begin.

"This is another step the Town is taking toward the full recovery of Roberto Clemente Park," Islip Town Supervisor Tom Croci said in a statement. "We have been coordinating with multiple agencies to ensure that the recovery process is thorough."

The town board approved as much as $6 million in bonds to pay for the cleanup, but some town officials expect the cost to grow.

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