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September 04, 2013

Sand Land Mine Under Investigation


For some Southampton Town residents, living near 585 Middle Line Highway in Bridgehampton is the pits.

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation is investigating a longtime Bridgehampton sand and gravel mine, aptly named "Sand Land." The mine's owners are accused of continuing to illegally dumping mulch in the pits of the sand mine for years now, and locals have had enough.

Last week, environmentalists and those who own property near Sand Land attended a meeting at Southampton Town Hall to request the town to enforce codes with regards to the mine, which is a 50 acre site smack dab in the middle of the Southampton Town's Special Groundwater Protection Area. Attendees included Adrienne Esposito, Citizens Campaign for the Environment executive director, Brian Sexton, Bridge Golf Club attorney, and Bob Deluca, president and CEO of Group for the East End.

The former sand mine is currently operating as a solid waste facility, yet its practices have been anything but on the up and up, opponents say. Illegal accepting, storing and burying large quantities of mulch and compost materials, which can seriously pollute groundwater supplies, have been part of Sand Land's operation for years, they say. Excessive noise and a formidable stench also provide problems for nearby residents.

In a letter to the DEC, Esposito and Sexton highlighted some of the issues pertaining to the sand mine.

"They were frantically and deliberately filling this four acre pit with mulch from their enormous inventory of mulch on site . . . this pit goes some 160 feet below grade, violates Sand Land's mining permits depth limits, is approximately four acres, and sits directly atop the most sensitive recharge zone of the aquifer protection district, classified as a Special Groundwater Protection Area."

According to Esposito and Sexton, the improper storage of mulch and compost piles are responsible for seriously and adversely contaminating groundwater. Further investigation revealed that burying mulch in large quantities leads to heavy metal contamination excessively above drinking water standards and elevated levels of radionuclides.

"We need to call on the town to immediately enforce their codes for no more illegal dumping," Esposito said in an interview on Monday. "We have eyewitnesses that this is occurring," she added. "We need to have the mulch dug up and removed and install groundwater monitoring wells south of Sand Land."

Esposito also said Southampton Town Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst verbally agreed that monitoring wells are vital and necessary in following this issue closer. Esposito said the supervisor would call the DEC to try to get those installed for further study. Other than Throne-Holst's verbal agreement, Esposito said the response of the town board at the meeting was "lackluster."

"We shouldn't wait," she said. "It would be helpful if the town requested it [monitoring wells from the DEC]. You have to act to protect the groundwater."

Emily@indyeastend.com

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