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New testing for toxins begins at Veterans Way in Islandia

Dirt samples are collected on the morning of

Dirt samples are collected on the morning of Wednesday, Dec. 3, 2014, at Veterans Way off Motor Parkway in Islandia. Credit: James Carbone

As excavation of dirt laced with toxins continued Wednesday, crews began new testing at the six-home subdivision in Islandia that is home to veterans who fought in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Crews from the environmental planning firm of Nelson, Pope & Voorhis LLC of Melville began work on the property of house No. 6, while engineers from the state Department of Environmental Conservation stood watch. The DEC approved the additional testing plan this week.

With the cleanup at the site, which began Monday, continuing, homeowners at the subdivision off Motor Parkway tried to go about their normal routines, taking their children to school and heading to work. Meanwhile, excavators removed dirt that tests have shown is laced with toxins just yards from their front doors.

Initial testing around the homes was done in May by EnviroScience Consultants Inc. of Ronkonkoma, on behalf of Suffolk County District Attorney Thomas Spota for his criminal investigation into illegal dumping. The Veterans Way site is one of four within the Town of Islip being investigated by Spota for illegal dumping.

Referring to the need for new testing, which was supported by Peter Creedon, a Northport attorney who represents five of the six homeowners, the DEC-approved plan, prepared by Nelson, Pope & Voorhis, reads: "Concerns still persisted regarding the environmental quality of soils that cover each of the six (6) residential home lots and road areas. These concerns were based on limited sampling results conducted on behalf of the residents of the development, which reportedly indicated the presence of pesticide compounds that exceeded the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation soil cleanup objectives for unrestricted use as well as the observed presence of construction debris."

Samples at a depth of 3 feet will be taken from a total of 12 new test pits on the front and back of each of the six properties, according to the plan.

Glenn Neuschwender, president of EnviroScience, deflected comment to Spota's office. Robert Clifford, a spokesman for Spota, defended the original tests and said in a statement: "The tests by EnviroScience, as part of a criminal investigation, showed the presence of pesticides, metals and petroleum by-products.

The Long Island Home Builders Care Development Corporation, the charitable arm of the Long Island Builders Institute, which built the homes, is footing the $20,000 bill for the additional testing. The cleanup is expected to last up to two weeks.

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