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Illegal-dumping battle is turning in nature’s favor

A dumping site at 175 Brook Ave, Deer

A dumping site at 175 Brook Ave, Deer Park, June 5, 2014, where the district attorney's office is investigating and taking samples. Credit: Ed Betz

State officials have revved up their campaign against illegal dumping and we applaud them, especially their promise that this is only the beginning. Persistence is important in catching perpetrators.

A dragnet for trucks that carry waste conducted last week by the state Department of Environmental Conservation and police agencies uncovered nine illegal dump sites in the Hudson Valley. Next time, investigators might make similar discoveries on Long Island, where one potential dump site was found. In all, nearly 200 tickets for dumping and safety violations were given to more than 100 truck drivers. Hopefully, the sweeps eventually find nothing because illegal dumpers have been dissuaded.

Long Island, whose sole-source aquifer exacerbates concerns about contaminants and toxic waste, has been plagued recently by illegal dumping in Brentwood, Central Islip, Deer Park, Islandia, Melville and Coram. The principal source of the problem is New York City, where a construction boom is creating huge amounts of debris and unscrupulous carters try to avoid paying fees associated with proper disposal.

The DEC hopes to change that behavior. Its checkpoints, like the two it set up on the Long Island Expressway, are intended to uncover the network behind the scourge of illegal dumping, and map out routes and sites. But just as important as these high-profile actions is the agency’s ongoing work to revise its waste disposal regulations. Its final revision will be released this spring, with adoption slated for the fall. The new rules must have the strongest possible system for tracking debris from where it’s generated to where it’s disposed.

The fight against illegal dumping has shifted to a higher gear. Keep the pedal down.— The editorial board