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Oct 8, 2019 3:11 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Calls For Better Mine Oversight After County Investigation

Oct 8, 2019 3:11 PM

State and county officials are pushing new controls on sand mines and the solid waste disposal services common at mines following the release of a special investigation by Suffolk County District Attorney Tim Sini’s office that exposed extensive illegal dumping and environmentally harmful practices at mines throughout the county.

State lawmakers from Long Island have proposed new legislation that would make many unauthorized mining and dumping activities criminal offenses in the state penal law, and they have pressed for new prohibitions on mines continuing to operate after groundwater contamination has been discovered.

State Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele Jr. and State Senator Kenneth P. LaValle have introduced a bill to the State Legislature that would require mining to be halted in regions of the county that have a sole-source aquifer — an aquifer that is the only source of drinking water supplies for a geographic region, as is the case on most of Long Island — when some form of groundwater contamination has been documented.

With the release of a report by a special grand jury charged by Mr. Sini’s office with investigating the extent of illegal dumping and mining in the county, which spotlighted contamination concerns about even legal mining operations, Mr. Thiele and Mr. LaValle said their legislation should be made a priority. At the same time, State Senator Todd Kaminsky has introduced new legislation that would stiffen the legal ramifications for those found to be dumping illegally or operating mining operations not permitted by the State Department of Environmental Conservation.

“The Suffolk Grand Jury report enumerates the potential adverse impacts to our aquifer when sand mining is not properly regulated,” Mr. Thiele said. “State oversight of mining is currently a failure. The incidence of groundwater contamination associated with sand mines across the East End is proof of a program that doesn’t protect our environment. A necessary first step to reform mining regulation on Long Island would be the immediate adoption of our legislation to prohibit continued mining of contaminated sites. It should be the first order of business in Albany this January.”

The legislation proposed by Mr. Thiele and Mr. LaValle stemmed from the case of the Sand Land mine in Noyac, which testing by the Suffolk County Department of Health indicated has caused levels of heavy metals far above health safety standards to build up in the water table near the mine.

Earlier this year, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation granted the mine a permit to continue mining another 40 feet of sand and gravel from the Millstone Brook Road property over the next eight years.

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