The Town of Islip in Long Island, New York is looking to file lawsuits against contractors who allegedly illegally dumped debris containing asbestos within the Roberto Clemente Park in Brentwood. According to Newsday, the contractors may also be criminally charged by the Suffolk County district attorney. To make sure that asset liquidation does not occur, the Town of Islip will also be seeking civil restraining orders against companies involved in the dumping.
“We want to prevent any of these people that are responsible for this criminal conduct from corporate protection by selling off assets of their corporations,” said councilman Anthony Senft. “So that when we come after them and get judgments in the favor of Town of Islip, they [can’t say they] have no assets.”
According to Suffolk District Attorney Thomas Spota, an estimated 32,000 tons of debris were dumped in the park by at least one “unscrupulous contractor”. Some of this debris contained asbestos concentrations as high as 44 percent. Spota called the dumping an “environmental nightmare” and experts estimate that the cleanup could cost seven figures.
Last year, a church located a mile north of the park asked for donations of clean soil to fix holes in its soccer fields after running out of its own resources. This request prompted contractors to dump illegal fill as early as June. According to Newsday, prosecutors said the debris came from New York City and Long Island.
The park has been closed indefinitely since April 23rd. This closure has stopped a $1.5 million swimming pool rehabilitation project, which was set to open next month. According to Newsday, a full analysis may take until early June.
At a news conference on Tuesday, Spota said his investigators are working to determine if anyone in the government was aware of illegal dumping at the time it occurred. According to Senft, who is the council’s liason to the parks department, the debris was “placed illegally without the permission” without the permission of the town. Spota said that the contractors who worked on the project were hired by the church, and that he believed the church was not to blame.
Asbestos fibers are easily ingested or inhaled when they are airborne. When breathed in, it can lead to a number of serious health problems, such as breathing problems that become harder to treat over time. Being exposed to large amounts of asbestos or being exposed for long periods of time may lead to various types of lung cancer, including mesothelioma.