A Long Island park has been padlocked and closed as law enforcement officials try to solve the mystery of who dumped asbestos-contaminated soil and debris there as part of what was supposed to be an improvement project.
In all, 32,000 tons of debris were dumped in more than 1,000 truckloads across Roberto Clemente Park's 28 acres over an eight-month period beginning last summer, according to investigators who are now looking for the contractors responsible.
It was supposed to be clean fill, trucked in as part of a project organized by a Brentwood church, but Suffolk County's district attorney said the debris is far from safe.
Soil testing has revealed what the DA called “high” levels of potentially airborne asbestos in the park. Tests for other possible toxins will be conducted Friday.
The DA says some of the debris, which includes auto parts, steel rods and construction trash, appears to have come from as far away as New York City.
“It’s ludicrous, ludicrous what they did,” said Tom Moore, a resident who often ran in the park.
Moore and other residents have blamed Islip town for not monitoring the dumping more closely. Clemente park is a town property.
Islip’s town board has fired the park’s department commissioner and, like the DA, is investigating the dumping debacle.
“We expected this was going to be fill in acceptable quality and it certainly was not,” said Islip Councilman Anthony Senft.
It could be several more weeks before the full extent of the contamination is known, said Senft.