More than 19 North Hempstead villages may be held accountable for contamination and cleanup of a 139-acre municipally owned superfund site in Port Washington. Some of the villages include Port Washington, New Hyde Park, Mineola, Great Neck and Flower Hill.
A superfund site is any land that has been contaminated by toxic waste and designated by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as a candidate for cleanup because of risk to human health or the environment. The site is located on the western side of Hempstead Harbor within Port Washington.
Some of the toxins at the site include methane, benzene, PCE and TCE.
According to Supervisor the landfill was designated a hazardous site decades ago, resulting in several lawsuits.
“A number of companies pursued by New York State are now looking to villages that they claim used the landfill to dump waste,” Kaiman said. “The Town will pursue the litigation costs and we believe that these lawsuits will not be successful against the villages.”
Some of these companies who joined the Port Washington Landfill Joint Defense Group (JDG), represented by the law firm Justis, which are suing the villages, are Keyspan, Verizon New York, St. Francis Hospital and the carting company formally called South Side Carting Company, according to the Mayor Robert Weitzner.
“They want us to pay approximately $22,000 and if our village does not settle soon they want us to pay $81,000,” Weitzner said. “It seems to me that this group doesn’t want to foot the bill for this cleanup and would like us to share the liability.”
Weitzner said he hoped that the outcome would prove that "we – the individual villages that secure garbage pickup for its residents, not commercial entities – are not responsible for the contamination or the cleanup, and should not be a party to any suit or settlement.”
It was revealed at a March 27 Town Hall meeting that the Port Washington JDG had served demand letters upon several villages, expressing its intention of pursuing the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA), the New York Conservation Law (ECL) and common law for the recovery of past and future response costs with respect to the site.