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Sep 17, 2018 12:22 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

DEC Orders All Mining Activity At Sand Land To End

State officials are demanding that mining operations cease and reclamation activities begin by September 27 at Sand Land,     DANA SHAW
Sep 18, 2018 3:57 PM

State officials are demanding that mining operations cease and reclamation activities begin by September 27 at Sand Land, a Noyac sand mine and mulch-composting business that has been accused of polluting groundwater near the site.

According to a letter dated September 10 from the State Department of Environmental Conservation to John Tintle, the owner of Sand Land, studies conducted by DEC staff in 2017 and 2018 found that minimum quantities of sand were available to be mined from the site. It also noted that vegetative organic waste processing activities on the property, which supplemented the mining operations, posed a threat to the groundwater.

“While Sand Land could potentially remove the de minimus amounts of sand in the existing life of mine, that sand is located predominantly in the area of the mine formerly used for storing and processing vegetative waste,” the letter read. “Future site activities in and around those areas where processing and storing of vegetative waste formerly occurred have the potential to allow the release of contaminants in that area, which could impact the local groundwater.”

This is the first time the DEC has sought to convert a mining permit to a reclamation permit.

A statement released by the DEC on Tuesday, read, in part: “Based on the continued concerns regarding the facility’s impacts on the environment, DEC is seeking to modify this facility’s permit to require the cessation of mining operations and require completion of reclamation within two years.” Sand Land’s attorney, Brian Matthews of Matthews, Kirst & Cooley PLLC in East Hampton, said on Monday that he plans to file an appeal on behalf of the mining company before the deadline of September 26. “We are going to pursue what we believe are our rights,” he said.

Local civic and elected officials have been calling on the DEC to shut down Sand Land for several years.

State Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele Jr., who has also been pushing for action from the DEC, praised the DEC’s move to modify the permit, which would result in a cease of mining activities.

“The State DEC has finally recognized what was obvious to the public for months: Sand Land Corporation is a polluter that has flouted state and local laws,” Mr. Thiele said in a prepared statement on Monday. “They should not be permitted to continue. At last, the DEC agrees.

“The decision is a victory for the environment and public health,” he added.

Officials from the Group for the East End and Citizens Campaign for the Environment, advocacy groups that had long pushed for water testing at the site, sent a letter to DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos on September 5, requesting that he deny Sand Land any permit extensions and that he review the Suffolk County Department of Health Services July report—which found elevated levels of chemicals and contaminants in Sand Land’s groundwater.

In the letter, Robert DeLuca, president of Group for the East End, and Adrienne Esposito, executive director of Citizens Campaign for the Environment, called for “New York State to advance the strongest protective measures that will help protect the area’s valuable and vulnerable supply of drinking water.”

“A mine reclamation plan is needed and can be secured through an enforceable consent agreement that allows for a maximum of six months for necessary reclamation activities, but a permit to continue sand mining at this contaminated site is not needed and will only allow for continued contamination,” the letter went on.

Earlier last week, Sean Mahar, the assistant commissioner of public affairs at the DEC, said that the “DEC continues to aggressively monitor this facility for compliance with all environmental laws and regulations.” Mr. Mahar also noted that all solid waste will be removed from the site by October 31—which was also announced in a letter sent by Mr. Seggos to Mr. DeLuca, Ms. Esposito and Elena Loreto, the president of the Noyac Civic Council, in August.

The contamination is of heightened concern because the aquifer sits an estimated 137 to 154 feet below the surface, so the contaminants—which include manganese, iron, thallium, sodium, nitrate, ammonia and gross alpha—detected in samples taken from 21 on- and off-site monitoring wells seeped deep into the ground, according to both Mr. DeLuca and Ms. Esposito.

The area is also identified by the state as a special groundwater protection area.

In previous interviews, Mr. Matthews has maintained that the county report is “flawed and predetermined.” He noted that Sand Land’s own private water tests—which were done by licensed professionals—met all drinking water standards.

“We are all in support of having clean groundwater, but we think the testing bears out that we’re not having a negative impact on water quality,” Mr. Matthews said in July.

In mid-August the letter written by Mr. Seggos, which was provided to The Press by Mr. DeLuca, claimed that Mr. Tintle “has committed to stop accepting brush, vegetative waste, concrete, brick, asphalt and other masonry debris as of September 1, 2018.

“Mr. Tintle also committed to DEC that he will not look to renew his existing solid waste registration after that time,” the letter continued. “This commitment should go a long way toward satisfying the issues raised in your letter.”

After receiving the letter, Mr. DeLuca said he feared that the “DEC will astonishingly entertain yet another mining permit for this site.”

It is unclear whether Sand Land will still look to renew its mining permit—which expires in early November.

On Thursday, September 13, Mr. Mahar had said that the DEC was “continuing to use all legal tools available to address concerns over the facility’s continued operation and will take any action necessary to ensure the public and the environment are protected.”

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IMHO -- the large, grotesque houses nearby are more offensive and cradle to grave polluting than the pit. That "gravel pit" has been off Middle Line Highway for as long as I can remember. Homes near there used to be relatively affordable because the "gravel pit" smells in the summer and the racetrack was loud. Now that the area is full of fancy houses, loud/smelly uses (that do pollute) are being pushed out in favor of cutting down the woods to build more fancy houses with impervious asphalt ...more
By Aeshtron (431), Southampton on Sep 17, 18 1:10 PM
1 member liked this comment
I can agree with everything you say above but during those same "golden years" you describe, the following was also true:
- Tobacco was killing millions of people.
- Greenhouse gas emissions were much, much higher.
- People didn't wear seatbelts and cars were far more dangerous.
- There was lead in gas and paint.
- Drinking and driving was a casual and largely unenforced crime.
- etc, etc, etc.

As a society, we've gone to great lengths to change our policies ...more
By Arnold Timer (327), Sag Harbor on Sep 17, 18 1:41 PM
1 member liked this comment
You are right, as human knowledge and technology improve, policies and laws should also evolve.

Two points to add that prove that I should focus more on work and less on posting comments online ; )
1) Worldwide GHG emissions are presently at an all-time high. According to the World Resources Institute, in 1970, worldwide CO2 emissions were 14,531 metric tons. In 2011 the figure grew to 32,274.
2) Worldwide smoking related deaths are also at an all-time high. According to the ...more
By Aeshtron (431), Southampton on Sep 17, 18 4:12 PM
I guess I should have said we've begun to address those first two points. As long as money buys political power, and corporations make more money while polluting, it will be tough to change laws and regs to benefit the 99%ers.
By Arnold Timer (327), Sag Harbor on Sep 17, 18 9:08 PM
Nice place for a motorcycle track. Good place to hold rock concerts.
Where will we get our sand from now?
By knitter (1941), Southampton on Sep 17, 18 3:14 PM
nimby wins again.
By xtiego (698), bridgehampton on Sep 17, 18 4:36 PM
that makes no sense
By BrianWilliams (87), on Sep 18, 18 10:40 AM
It's about time! This site is not pre-existing - check aerial photos. This owner has blatantly disregarded the rules of the DEC, the County and the Town. That there are now McMansions surrounding this site is not the issue. The issue is what is UNDER the site OUR groundwater! Time to protect it for EVERYONE'S sake. P.S. Those McMansions all have Health Dept. approvals & comply with Town imposed clearing regs (well, most of them), and are used about 2 weeks per year. I'd rather have them than ...more
By NoName27 (16), Southampton on Sep 17, 18 4:39 PM
Shut it down......would be an ideal site to grow marijuana when it is legalized a great local market.and it can be organic.hope i can get in on the deal.
By watchdog1 (543), Southampton on Sep 17, 18 5:53 PM
1 member liked this comment
The farms in the area destroyed the ground water with nitrates and that's a fact. These idiots moved next to the mine and now they complain? Selfish homeowners.
By chief1 (2800), southampton on Sep 17, 18 9:29 PM
Chief, our ponds and lakes out here were clean before the building boom. You used to be able to swim in mill pond, now you can almost walk on it. The runoff from residential homes causes more pollution then the potatoe farms did. Granted stuff like temik and ddt had adverse effects on the environment. A single family home with a septic system is far more damaging then that piece of property if undeveloped. Over building, not farms are to blame for our current state of affairs.
By Fred s (3321), Southampton on Sep 18, 18 5:50 AM
Really Fred? My house has a filter for temik and nitrates nothing caused by a single family home. That giant flood of water down Deerfield Rd from the farms running into Mill pond created the pollution. Fred why is it always someone else developing? Do you live in a home? Maybe take down your house and you can be an example.
By chief1 (2800), southampton on Sep 18, 18 11:49 AM