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Post date: September 5 1999

State Sues To Recover Money Spent On Westbury Waste Site Clean-up Preparationsstate Sues To Recover Money Spent On Westbury Waste Site Clean-up Preparations

Attorney General Spitzer and Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner John P. Cahill today announced the filing of a lawsuit which seeks to recover more than a quarter of a million dollars spent by the State preparing to clean up a hazardous waste site in Westbury, Nassau County.

The lawsuit was filed in Brooklyn Federal Court against Dermkraft, P.C. and its owner John D. Krafchuk. Krafchuk is believed to have moved to Florida in an attempt to avoid the jurisdiction of the New York courts and liability for the costs of cleaning up the site. As a result, the Attorney General is also seeking an attachment against any property owned by Dermkraft in the state.

"Mr. Krafchuk has shown a lack of respect, not only for New York's environment, but also for its citizens," said Spitzer. "We will use every legal means available to force him to clean up the site and pay for its costs."

DEC Commissioner John P. Cahill said:
"New York State has given the owners of this property every opportunity to work with us in remediating the clean-up of this site, which is one of 15 inactive hazardous waste sites in the 170-acre New Cassel Industrial Area. So far they have failed to cooperate. Today's action sends a clear message that DEC will vigorously pursue and hold responsible those who cause harm to New York's environment and threaten the health and safety of its citizens."

In 1995, DEC initiated an investigation at the waste site located at 62 Kinkel Street and consequently determined that the site poses a significant threat to public health and the environment. The company has been uncooperative with the State in its effort to put together a remediation plan. The State has spent more than a quarter of million dollars preparing the site for clean-up.

Soil samples collected from an abandoned cesspool at the site contained trichloroethylene, a hazardous solvent frequently used for degreasing and cleaning. This substance was found at far greater levels than the State allows. Trichloroethylene can cause dizziness, headaches, damage to the nervous system, liver and kidneys, and could result in coma or death. It is easily absorbed by inhalation or skin contact and can contaminate underground aquifers used for drinking water.

The site is also contaminated by various metals, including arsenic, mercury, nickel and iron, and volatile organic compounds including 2-butanone and xylene.

The case is being handled by Assistant Attorney General Carter Strickland of Spitzer's Environmental Protection Bureau.