Attorney General Andrew M. Cuomo Files Suit To Halt Wetlands And Water Pollution Violations

ALBANY, NY (March 5, 2007) – Attorney General Andrew M. Cuomo announced today the filing of a lawsuit against the owner of a Bronx-based waste hauling business for dumping construction waste in a Copake-based wetland and polluting a protected nearby stream in Columbia County.

An inspection of the site by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation revealed that Salvatore Cascino, operator of a Bronx-based waste processing business that specializes in construction and demolition (C&D) materials, and owner of Copake Valley Farm, LLC and 13 Lackawanna Properties, had unlawfully spread processed C&D waste in the wetlands.

The polluted area is home to a specific type of wetland that provides habitat an endangered species – the bog turtle. The defendants also constructed a 30-feet wide steel bridge over the Noster Kill – a protected trout stream – without obtaining a permit. The construction of the bridge and a 55-feet wide access road for trucks has degraded the stream’s water quality.

The Attorney General filed suit in the state Supreme Court in Columbia County for unlawful filling of wetlands, unauthorized disturbance of a protected stream and the un-permitted discharge and disposal of storm water associated with construction activity and solid waste. The Department of Law has also requested a preliminary injunction requiring Cascino to remove fill restore the damaged wetlands and pay civil penalties.  

“This defendant knowingly and willingly distributed harmful waste throughout a wildlife-rich area of Columbia County,” said Attorney General Cuomo. “By doing so, he created an environmental hazard that must be remedied. We have environmental protection laws in place for a good reason in New York, and the Department of Law is working with the DEC to aggressively enforce the laws that protect streams and wetlands.”  

The Attorney General’s lawsuit follows a similar 2006 suit filed in state Supreme Court by the Town Supervisor of Copake, alleging that Cascino and the other defendants have violated the Town’s zoning ordinances by spreading waste on farm land.

“It is welcome news that the Attorney General is going to prosecute this case and we welcome his help,” said Angelo Valentino, Town Supervisor of Copake. “We’ve been dealing with this gentleman for quite a few years and have had much difficulty getting him to comply with the zoning ordinances, both at the town and state level.”

The case is being handled by Michael Myers, Assistant Attorney General in the Environmental Protection Bureau, under the supervision of Bureau Chief Katherine Kennedy and by Richard Ostrov, Assistant Regional Attorney for the DEC Region 4.