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Veterans Way subdivision work begins to remove contaminated soil

Cleanup work is underway at the Veterans Way

Cleanup work is underway at the Veterans Way site in Islandia this morning, Dec. 1, 2014. Photo Credit: Newsday / Sarah Armaghan

The first trucks hauling away contaminant-laced debris from the Veterans Way subdivision are expected to roll out of state Tuesday after preparations were completed Monday to get the 1,000 cubic yards of fill out of the Islandia property.

Digging is set to start about 7 a.m. and the trucks -- which could begin to be loaded by midmorning -- will then head to a landfill in Palmerton, Pennsylvania, said Mitch Pally, chief executive of the Long Island Builders Institute, whose charitable arm built the homes for veterans.

"They don't know how hard the material is to get out of the ground," Pally said. "It just depends . . . so there's no set time frame."

The cleanup plan, approved Aug. 12 by the state Department of Environmental Conservation, calls for the debris to be trucked out over a one- to two-day period. Pally said he estimates it "could take as many as four to five days to get all the stuff out."

Work crews were at the site about 7 a.m. Monday and wrapped up just before 3 p.m., when they erected a 6-foot chain link fence around a berm where hazardous materials have been found, according to Pally.

A silt fence was put inside the fence to prevent any runoff in the case of a heavy rain.

Two excavators and a skid steer laid down gravel to build a driveway at the western end of the berm opposite Veterans Way, to keep the roadway off Motor Parkway clear.

Five of the six veterans' families living on the cul-de-sac off Motor Parkway are staying in their homes for the duration of the project, expected to last 10 days to two weeks. Sgt. Eric Petry and his family -- including his wife and their two children, ages 5 months and 4 years -- moved into a nearby hotel Sunday afternoon.

Their home, which is closest to the berm where banned pesticides and metals have been found, has been sealed with Tyvek protective covering over the windows, garage door and some siding to keep out any dust or particles from the work site.

Last December, each of the homeowners -- all veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan -- moved into the homes built by the Long Island Home Builders Care Development Corp., LIBI's charitable arm, which they were able to purchase for half the price of nearby residences.

Suffolk County District Attorney Thomas Spota has linked Veterans Way along with three other sites within the Town of Islip during the criminal probe into dumping he launched in April. Spota's office was first led to the subdivision after learning companies associated with the Datre family had worked on the project, Newsday has reported.

A special grand jury focused on illegal dumping has been convened by Spota.

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