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Roberto Clemente Park cleanup plan sent back to state for approval

Roberto Clemente Park in Brentwood is shown on

Roberto Clemente Park in Brentwood is shown on Friday, May 9, 2014. Photo Credit: Randee Daddona

The Town of Islip has given the state the latest revision of a cleanup plan for tens of thousands of tons of contaminated debris at Roberto Clemente Park.

The new proposal, which comes after months of discussions and changes to the original document submitted in September, includes the three new groundwater monitoring wells installed at Roberto Clemente Park last week after the state Department of Environmental Conservation required them.

The revisions, sent to the DEC Wednesday, also include the creation of a working group made up of representatives of the town, the community and agencies involved in the cleanup, to address questions after residents and advocates demanded participation in cleaning up Brentwood's largest town-owned park.

The revised plan also includes additional groundwater sampling from the wells along with a more detailed community air monitoring plan during cleanup activities and better-defined soil sampling locations.

The plan was prepared by Enviroscience Consultants, Inc. of Ronkonkoma, an engineering firm hired by town officials in May to assist in the cleanup process. The 198-page proposal requires DEC approval before work can begin.

Islip Town Councilman Steve Flotteron said town officials have been "in constant contact" with the DEC, and have asked for an "expedited review" by the state agency.

"Our goal was for us to get started [with the cleanup] months ago but we have to wait for these agencies, the DEC, to approve," Flotteron said. "It's not fully in our control."

DEC officials, in a statement, said the agency "is committed to a comprehensive cleanup of Roberto Clemente Park, including removal of fill illegally dumped at the park and restoration of the site for safe public use" and that they expect to complete the review of Islip's plan "very soon."

Six people were indicted last month for their alleged roles in illegal dumping after a criminal investigation started in April by Suffolk County District Attorney Thomas Spota. Islip's former parks commissioner, Joseph J. Montuori Jr., and his former secretary, Brett A. Robinson, were charged with 12 counts each, including endangering public health, safety or the environment, official misconduct and conspiracy for allegedly allowing the dumping to take place at the park.

The contaminated fill at Clemente, estimated to be 50,000 tons, was spread over a four-acre area on the former soccer fields and in the recharge basin. The fill contains levels of organic compounds and metals that exceed acceptable DEC levels for that type of property, as well as asbestos in a non-breathable form. With all contaminated fill from the site to be excavated and removed considered to contain asbestos, unless supplemental testing is performed, the removal is classified as a Large Asbestos Project, according to the plan. It requires removing 160 square feet or more of asbestos-contaminated materials.

County health officials have deemed the public health risk as relatively low, although potential hazards while the dumping was going on aren't known.

Safety measures, such as the use of dust screens around the work areas, are proposed, as well as air monitoring, groundwater monitoring and a sprinkler system to keep the fill wet before, during and after removal.

Trucks hauling the materials out of the park would be lined and covered with at least two layers of fire-retardant polyethylene sheeting.

"We want to do the highest level of cleanup and make sure it's cost-effective to the taxpayers. We want to make that healthy balance," Flotteron said.

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