A.G. Schneiderman Wins Court Ruling Requiring Landowner To Clean Up Illegal Landfill That Polluted A Reservoir That Will Provide Drinking Water To New York City Residents
Discharge of Harmful Carcinogens, Lead, And Other Pollutants Occurred At NYC’s Croton Falls Reservoir, Historically A Source of Drinking Water For 1 Million New Yorkers Daily
NEW YORK – Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman today announced that his office has won a State Supreme Court ruling holding a landowner and his contractor liable for illegally operating a landfill and discharging pollution into a New York City drinking water source that has historically provided water to 1 million New Yorkers daily. Putnam County Supreme Court Justice Victor G. Grossman found that Gary Prato, the owner of an estate on the shores of the City’s Croton Falls Reservoir, and his contractor, Anthony Adinolfi (aka Dirtman), violated several state environmental laws in creating and operating the landfill on Prato’s property. The ruling orders Prato to conduct a full cleanup of the landfill. A hearing will be held August 15th to determine the specific cleanup activities to be required and the amount of any civil penalties.
“Clean drinking water is not only a necessity, it is a basic right,” said Attorney General Schneiderman. “The defendants in this case thumbed their noses at the law and, as a result, they threatened a vital source of drinking water for 1 million people. New York’s environmental protection laws apply to everyone, even those who are rich and powerful, and I will continue to fight to ensure that those who choose to ignore these laws are held fully accountable.”
In 2009, Prato decided to add a pool house and garage to his 27-acre estate on Croton Falls Road in the Town of Carmel in Putnam County. Prato arranged with Adinolfi and his company, Dirtman Enterprises, Inc., to provide material necessary to fill in and grade steeply sloped areas as part of the project. For most of 2010, Adinolfi dumped more than 40,000 cubic yards of fill on the site under Prato’s direction. Adinolfi provided the fill at no cost – saving Prato up to $560,000 – and did the grading for free.
The fill dumped at the site consisted of construction and demolition debris containing waste materials, including coal ash and slag. Sampling of the debris by defendants’ own consultants showed that it contained a variety of likely carcinogens called “polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons” at levels exceeding State standards for protecting public health and the environment. Some of the fill material eroded and was discharged into the Croton Falls Reservoir. Although currently off-line awaiting the next year’s projected completion of a filtration plant under Van Cortlandt Park in the Bronx, the Croton Falls Reservoir is part of a drinking water system that historically provided 10% of the drinking water consumed daily in New York City.
Justice Grossman agreed with Attorney General Schneiderman and ruled that Prato and Adinolfi violated multiple state laws and underlying regulations through their activities at the site, including the constructing or operation of a solid waste management facility without obtaining a permit from the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC). Solid waste management facilities are also subject to strict operational and closure requirements to avoid adverse impacts to public health and the environment. Justice Grossman also ruled that discharges from the site into the Croton Falls Reservoir violated water pollution laws that require permitting and control of pollutants discharged into state waters.
The Attorney General’s Office thanks the DEC and the City of New York for its participation in this case.
In 2012, Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman obtained a guilty plea in a criminal case brought against Adinolfi in Putnam County Supreme Court. That case involved, in part, Adinolfi’s operation of an illegal solid waste management facility at the Prato property. As a result, Adinolfi was sentenced to four months behind bars and five years of probation.
This matter was handled by Assistant Attorney General and New York City Watershed Inspector General Philip Bein and Environmental Scientist Mauricio Roma, with support from Environmental Protection Bureau Chief Lemuel M. Srolovic, Executive Deputy Attorney General for Social Justice Alvin Bragg and First Deputy for Affirmative Litigation Janet Sabel. DEC Regional Solid Waste Geologist Steven Parisio and Assistant Regional Counsel Carol Krebs, and