The Attorney General's office has delivered $627,000 from 8 companies involved in the illegal dumping of contaminated construction waste in Roberto Clemente Park in Brentwood, town officials announced in May.
These agreements, which will be sent to the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York for final approval, are the first resolutions reached in a federal lawsuit the Office of the Attorney General brought in 2017 against 33 construction contractors, waste brokers and waste haulers that illegally dumped waste in the park for years.
That lawsuit sought damages under the federal Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) and state public nuisance and negligence laws for the Brentwood community’s lost use of the park during its three years of cleanup.
The funds will be used to improve public park facilities in the Brentwood area, including Roberto Clemente Park. The OAG will work with local community groups, elected officials, and the Town of Islip to engage residents in identifying community priorities for restoring and enhancing Brentwood parks.
New York Attorney General Letitia James joined with Islip Town Supervisor Angie Carpenter and other elected officials on May 26 to make the announcement.
“The threats of environmental injustice are real and have unfairly plagued communities like Brentwood for too long,” said Attorney General James. “For over three years, Roberto Clemente Park was used as an illegal dumping ground, robbing residents of the centerpiece of this community and putting our children in harm’s way. Today, we begin to give back what’s long been due, and hold accountable those responsible for polluting this park with dangerous chemicals."
Supervisor Carpenter thanked James for her "unwavering commitment to hold these companies accountable, and for ensuring that restitution be made."
"Although the illegal dumping at Roberto Clemente Park proceeded AG James’ tenure, as it did mine, the AG has remained steadfast in her pledge to make the community whole,” Carpenter said.
Suffolk County District Attorney Timothy Sini said for many years, environmental crimes on Long Island, particular those committed against communities of color, were not given the appropriate amount of attention or resources to truly bring those perpetrators to justice. But those days have ended, he said.
“These are serious crimes that can devastate communities and impact our public health, and any would-be polluters are now on notice that these crimes do not pay," District Attorney Sini said in a press release. "If you are illegally dumping in Suffolk County you will be held responsible, both criminally and financially. I commend Attorney General James and her office for their partnership and their efforts to hold these companies to account and delivering these reparations to the residents of Brentwood.”
The legal actions against the 25 other companies and individuals named in the federal lawsuit remain ongoing. Funds obtained through the continuing litigation will also be directed towards the enhancement of Brentwood-area parks.
In 2016, the Town of Islip initiated a separate legal action against a number of companies and individuals involved in the dumping. The Town has reached agreements for $145,000 for the park’s cleanup with two of the same companies that the state has now settled with.