Attorney General James Delivers $627,000 for Brentwood Community Marred by Waste Dumping at Roberto Clemente Park

 Disposal of Contaminated Construction Waste by Companies
and Individuals Closed Major Park to Community for Years 

$627,000 Obtained in Eight Agreements Will Be Used for Brentwood Park Improvements; 
Additional Funds Expected as AG James’ Legal Action Continues 

NEW YORK – New York Attorney General Letitia James today announced that her office has delivered $627,000 from eight companies involved in the illegal dumping of contaminated construction waste in Roberto Clemente Park in Brentwood, Long Island. 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 (OAG) brought in 2017 against 33 construction contractors, waste brokers, and waste haulers that illegally dumped waste in the park for years. The agreements seek to hold these companies and individuals financially liable for the Brentwood community’s lost use of the popular park during the three years it was closed for cleanup.  

The funds will be used to improve public park facilities in the Brentwood community, 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.

“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 a 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. My office will continue to crack down on those who put our communities in jeopardy and stand up for the right of all New Yorkers to live in safe, healthy neighborhoods.”

Between August 2013 and April 2014, tens of thousands of tons of urban soil and construction and demolition (C&D) debris were transported from construction sites in the New York City metropolitan area and were illegally dumped in Roberto Clemente Park, a park owned by the Town of Islip. The Town closed the park in May 2014 when environmental testing revealed the presence of asbestos, and, later, a wide array of toxic chemicals, heavy metals, and pesticides, in areas of the park where the dumping occurred. The park remained closed until July 2017, as cleanup contractors removed approximately 39,000 tons of hazardous construction waste.  

In May 2017, OAG sued the companies and individuals related to the dumping — contractors that arranged for the disposal of soil and C&D contaminated with hazardous substances from construction sites in the New York City metropolitan area, companies that brokered the removal and disposal of the contaminated waste, and the haulers that transported waste to Roberto Clemente Park and dumped it there. 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 cleanup. 

The agreements and related payments announced today resolve the lawsuit brought by OAG against the following companies: 

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 parks in the Brentwood community. 

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. 

Attorney General James thanks the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation for its assistance in this matter. 

“Today’s announcement marks an important milestone in New York’s efforts to help make the Brentwood community whole after illegal dumping closed Roberto Clemente Park,” said New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Basil Seggos. “The discovery of dumping of construction and demolition debris in this park by DEC Law Enforcement Officers and staff and the subsequent cleanup served as the spark for the State’s overhaul of rules for C&D disposal. We are proud to work with partners in the Attorney General’s Office and the town of Islip to ensure the safe clean-up of contamination, hold the dumpers accountable for the harm they caused, and restore this park for the community.”   

“On behalf of the Islip community, I want to thank Attorney General James for confronting environmental racism and securing this settlement from the companies who polluted a beloved community park in my Assembly District,” said Assistant Speaker of the New York State Assembly Phil Ramos. “This money will help improve and restore Roberto Clemente Park and help ensure Brentwood families have a safe green space to enjoy, building on the $2 million I secured for the park in the 2017-18 state budget. I’ll continue working with my community partners and fellow elected leaders to ensure any person or business who illegally dumps contaminated waste is held accountable for their actions.” 

“Local parks should be the centerpieces of our community’s where families can safely enjoy the outdoors. Unfortunately, residents of the Brentwood Community have long been denied that opportunity, due to the illegal dumping of hazardous materials into Roberto Clemente Park,” said State Senator Alexis Weik. “The funding secured today will help reestablish Roberto Clemente Park and once again give the Brentwood Community their park to enjoy.” 

“For far too long, 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,” said Suffolk County District Attorney Timothy D. Sini. “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. 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.” 

“Roberto Clemente Park has been closed for far too long and our community in Brentwood has been without a popular park,” said Suffolk County Legislator Susan A. Berland. “I applaud Attorney General James’ fierce dedication to providing justice for our community. I look forward to working with the residents of Brentwood and my colleagues in elected office to use these funds to restore and enhance Roberto Clemente Park and other Brentwood parks.” 

“On behalf of the members of the Islip Town Board and our residents, I applaud Attorney General Letitia James for her unwavering commitment to hold these companies accountable, and for ensuring that restitution be made,” said Islip Town Supervisor Angie Carpenter. “Although the illegal dumping at Roberto Clemente Park proceeded Attorney General James’ tenure, the Attorney General has remained steadfast in her pledge to make the community whole.” 

“Uplift Our Towns understands that having a voice in the allocation of the lawsuit funds is crucial in this moment for our community,” said Herbie Medina, Vice President, Uplift Our Towns. “Our community has endured endless waiting for positive improvements. This is why having complete transparency and accountability in the allocation of these funds is the primary goal. We will ensure that the community is represented every step of the way.” 

This matter is being handled by Assistant Attorneys General Matthew J. Sinkman and Channing Wistar-Jones, Chief Environmental Scientists Anthony Dvarskas and Jodi Feld, Environmental Scientist John D. Davis, and Geographic Information System Intern Gregory Welter, under the supervision of Deputy Bureau Chief Monica Wagner of the New York Attorney General’s Environmental Protection Bureau, which is led by Bureau Chief Lemuel M. Srolovic. Staff and interns of the Attorney General’s Research and Analytics Department provided additional support, under the supervision of the Department’s Director Jonathan Werberg. The Environmental Protection Bureau is a part of the Division for Social Justice, which is led by Chief Deputy Attorney General Meghan Faux and overseen by First Deputy Attorney General Jennifer Levy.