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Aug 22, 2018 9:35 AMPublication: The Southampton Press

DEC Says Sand Land Will Stop Accepting Debris Next Month

Sand Land, a Noyac sand mine and mulch composing business. PRESS FILE
Aug 22, 2018 10:17 AM

Sand Land, a Noyac sand mine and mulch-composting business that has been accused of polluting groundwater near the site, will stop accepting and processing debris next month, according to a letter from State Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Basil Seggos.

The letter, which was provided to The Press by Robert DeLuca, president of Group for the East End, claims that sand mine property owner John Tintle “has committed to stop accepting brush, vegetative waste, concrete, brick, asphalt and other masonry debris as of September 1, 2018,” and “will clean up all such material from the site by October 31, 2018.”

Ms. Seggos also noted that Mr. Tintle “will not look to renew his existing solid waste registration after that time.”

In July, a final report from the Suffolk County Department of Health Services revealed that there was significant contamination to the aquifer that sits below the 50-acre Middle Line Highway site, but Mr. Seggos’s letter failed to mention that report.

Now, civic leaders and elected officials are taking issue with the DEC’s monitoring of Sand Land, which is owned by Wainscott Sand and Gravel, and question whether its promises will be fulfilled.

The letter was sent to three advocacy organizations—the Group for the East End, the Noyac Civic Council and Citizens Campaign for the Environment—in response to an inquiry they sent to Governor Andrew Cuomo earlier this month regarding the state’s plans for Sand Land. All of the group leaders, as well as many local politicians, are calling for Sand Land to be shut down, and cleaned up.

“The thing I find most unusual about the letter is it really spoke as if the mine owner was at an equal footing with the DEC,” said Mr. DeLuca, noting that the activities mentioned in the letter have already been deemed illegal by Southampton Town. He added, of the DEC, “They’re supposed to be in charge. They’re supposed to be protecting the groundwater.”

State Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele Jr. added that “there is nothing about the polluter’s promise that is legally binding. There is no consent order or legally binding enforcement action. On Halloween, we may find, like other statements from the polluter, that this is a trick, not a treat.”

In mid-July Southampton Town Supervisor Jay Schneiderman also sent a letter to the DEC concluding that, although Sand Land was previously operating as a preexisting, nonconforming use, local ordinances prohibit mining in Southampton Town. Now, according to Mr. DeLuca, Sand Land is appealing that decision.

Sand Land’s attorney, Brian Matthews of Matthews, Kirst & Cooley PLLC in East Hampton, could not immediately be reached for comment.

Mr. DeLuca noted that he, Adrienne Esposito, the executive director at Citizens Campaign for the Environment, and Elena Loreto, the president of the Noyac Civic Council, plan to send another letter to Mr. Cuomo asking that the mine be closed to stop any further water contamination.

“The DEC must get its head out of the sand,” Mr. Thiele said. “No more permits. Shut it down.”

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