24 Individuals Arrested and Charged, Including Felony Charges, for Illegally Dumping Construction and Demolition Waste on Long Island
Investigation By DEC and Suffolk County District Attorney's Office Nets Charges Against 12 Corporations
Operation TrashNet Will Continue State's Crackdown on Illegal Dumping on Long Island and in the Mid-Hudson Valley
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced the largest takedown of alleged illegal dumping offenders in state history. The State Department of Environmental Conservation led an ongoing multi-agency crackdown on the illegal disposal of construction and demolition (C&D) debris and strengthened New York's solid waste regulations to deter illegal dumping, address this growing threat, and help protect New York's water quality, especially downstate.
"Illegal dumping poses a serious threat to our environment, and New York will not allow any unscrupulous businesses to continue to harm this state," Governor Cuomo said. "We have made significant progress in protecting New York's communities and resources with the largest takedown of alleged illegal dumping, and as we continue to work to stop this alleged criminal behavior, we are sending a clear message to potential polluters that their time is up and this state will do everything in our power to protect New York's communities."
"The individuals and companies arrested in connection with this alleged illegal dumping scheme put the health of Suffolk County residents at risk out of pure greed," Suffolk County District Attorney Sini said. "These defendants are alleged to have knowingly dumped solid waste and potentially hazardous materials into our residents' backyards and parks just to line their pockets. The District Attorney's Office is committed to protecting the safety of Suffolk County and our environment, and we will prosecute those accountable to the fullest extent of the law. I commend Governor Cuomo for his leadership on this issue and thank the Department of Environmental Conservation for partnering with my office to bring these perpetrators to justice."
As the Operation TrashNet investigation progressed in 2017, DEC's Environmental Conservation Police Officers and Division of Materials Management experts teamed up with downstate district attorney's offices, New York State Police, State Department of Transportation staff, and local law enforcement agencies to launch an enforcement blitz on Long Island and in the Mid-Hudson Valley on the alleged illegal disposal of C&D debris and other solid waste violations. Since early 2017, this collaboration has spearheaded dozens of undercover details and truck surveillance operations to uncover a number of crimes.
"Through the Governor's leadership, New York is setting a national standard for strengthening our regulations on solid waste disposal in the state and ensuring law enforcement officials have the tools they need to effectively hold these polluters accountable for the environmental hazards they cause," said DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos. "I commend our ECOs, our expert solid waste management staff, the Suffolk County DA's office, and all our local law enforcement partners for their ongoing efforts to keep toxic waste and debris from allegedly being illegally dumped in our communities and to protect the public from this immoral practice."
Actions taken during Operation TrashNet on Long Island and in the Mid-Hudson Valley are as follows:
- Over 550 total tickets issued and charges filed for various misdemeanors and other serious safety violations during enforcement actions
- More than 170 tickets issued for alleged unlawful disposal of solid waste
- More than 40 trucking companies allegedly identified
- 81 new illegal dumping sites uncovered
- 26 trucks seized and impounded
- 53 search warrants executed
While a number of cases remain under investigation, additional operations to identify and pursue criminal offenders and illegal dumping sites are planned for the coming months.
As part of the operation, DEC environmental conservation officers and Suffolk County District Attorney Timothy D. Sini announced the arrests of 24 offenders who were connected to dozens of alleged illegal C&D debris and solid waste dumping cases on Long Island, some of whom face felony charges, including those involved with the soccer fields at Brentwood North Middle School. The charges are merely allegations, and all defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty in a court of law.
Through Operation Pay Dirt, which was executed by the Suffolk County District Attorney's Office in partnership with the DEC as part of Operation TrashNet on Tuesday, July 17 on Long Island:
- 12 corporations are being charged with crimes
- 12 trucks used for alleged illegal dumping were seized
- Dozens of new alleged illegal dump sites were uncovered
Prioritizing Cleanup of Illegal Dumping Sites
DEC works directly with local District Attorneys to secure cleanup of the illegal dump sites as part of the joint efforts to bring individuals and companies to justice. To secure cleanups, sanctions can include jail time and fines for the responsible entities as well as seizure of trucks and other equipment. The goal of these enforcement actions is to ensure these sites are cleaned up.
DEC undertakes detailed investigations to evaluate the nature and extent of the materials dumped, identify sources of the C&D debris, and prioritize cleanup actions. As sites are evaluated, if any imminent threats to public health are found, they are immediately addressed. Currently, of the 81 new dumping sites uncovered:
- 52 sites are currently under investigation
- 21 sites are under administrative enforcement action requiring responsible parties to conduct cleanups
- 8 sites have been mitigated or clean-ups are currently underway
State Strengthens Solid Waste Management Regulations
To improve the state's ability to crackdown on this illegal activity, DEC strengthened the state's Solid Waste Management Regulations to address the management of C&D debris and fill material, including enhanced tracking for these materials generated in New York City, as well as for fill materials containing contaminants generated across the state. Governor Cuomo has also urged municipalities across the state to make C&D debris management an integral part of all future local solid waste management plans.
Report illegal dumping
DEC urges anyone who witnesses illegal dumping activities, or may have been a victim of illegal dumping to report these crimes to NYSDEC 24-hour Poacher and Polluter hotline at 1-844-DEC-ECOS (1-844-332-3267).