Wednesday, August 11, 2010

State Orders Islip Landfill Capped…$16 Million Dollar Deadline

    Supervisor Phil Nolan says…NO NEED

After more than two decades of delay the Town of Islip is faced with a $16 million dollar deadline from the State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) to cap the Lincoln Avenue landfill, which closed in the 1980's.   The Town must hire a contractor by March of 2012 and finish the work by February 2013, this represents a three year extension by the State DEC granted after Mr. Nolan requested a ten year extension in 2008.   

Islip Supervisor Phil Nolan has other ideas for the Sayville landfill, according to a recent Newsday article where he is quoted as saying:

 “This is a landfill that has pretty much run its course.  It should have been capped at least two decades ago.  You don’t cap it when all this stuff is already out there.  I don’t like being handed a bill… for something that isn’t necessary, in a climate where we’re trying to maintain services at the town level.” (Newsday 8/6/2010 State Sets Deadline to Cap Landfill by Jennifer Maloney)

Arguing the site poses no “ imminent threat to public health” and that the damage is already done Mr. Nolan asked for a cost-benefit analysis to capping the landfill.

“This would be an environmental travesty for Long Island and its’ drinking water supply and the environment”, a former employee of Mr. Nolan said in response.

A little history is in order here, according to William Perks a former employee of the Town of Huntington when current Islip Town Supervisor Phil Nolan, was the Director of Environmental Control in the Town of Huntington and handled the Ogden Martin Incinerator and the East Northport landfill.  Mr. Perks spoke with Freelance Investigations and had plenty to say about Mr. Nolan’s recent remarks in the Newsday story.

Mr. Perks claims Mr. Nolan violated State Conservation Laws and Town laws when as the Director, he allowed hazardous radiated waste to be burned in the Covanta Waste to Energy Plant operated for Smithtown/Huntington on Townline Road in East Northport ; which at the time was known as Ogden Martin.  

Between December 1998 and March 2000, at least 9 loads of ferrous radiated scrap were returned to the incinerator site from Gershow Recycling Inc. in Medford, according to Mr. Perks and documents obtained by Freelance Investigations.  At the time Ogden Martin publicly denied there was a health risk.  But after Gershow installed their own radiation detector too many loads of scrap known as “Grizzle” or “Grizzly” were coming back to Huntington.

Phil Nolan was the Huntington Waste Management Director when the radiated materials were being sent back by Gershow.  Nolan was questioned then about the issue of radioactive contamination and is quoted in a story by David Ambro printed in  The Observer, The Smithtown News and The Huntington News.

“The plant poses no health hazard whatsoever.  We are monitored by the State Department of Environmental Conservation and the United States Environmental Protection Agency stringently and continuously and the plant passes all tests with flying colors…I’m confident in saying this is one of the cleanest plants in the country.  The people of Huntington can be very confident they have a safe and efficient plant here.” (Hot Scrap: Incinerator Residue Contaminated With Low-Levels of Radioactivity; March 8, 2001 By David Ambro, The Observer)

The MCLG or Maximum Contaminant Level Goal for radioactive compounds is zero.

Records show that once the Bicron 3000 Radiation Detector was installed,  that the Town paid RADIAC, a radiation removal firm at 261 Kent Avenue in Brooklyn over $140,000 dollars in 2000 as a result of over a dozen radioactive incidents.  Depending on the level of contamination Radiac charges ranged from $4,000-$7,000 per/85 gallon barrel to remove the hazardous material back in 2001, which was strictly prohibited by the DEC permit at the time.  Then the Town was also charged a fee by Gershow  when Gershow  returned the waste to them which averaged $250.00 per returned load of radiated scrap.

Mr. Perks claims he and at least one other witness, saw the reintroduction of the returned radiated scrap metal being fed into the incinerator to burn.  He says both he and another witness brought documents into Manhattan to speak with the Attorney General's Office.  (C. Michael Higgins)

According to documents obtained by Freelance Investigations, Gershow returned radioactive loads of “grizzly” (scrap metal) in 1998, 1999 and in 2000.

At the time Mr. Nolan said in the press he suspected the source of the radiation was from increased outpatient medical procedures causing radioactive diapers to end up in the municipal waste stream.

Mr. Perks, then Harbormaster and Hazardous Materials Coordinator for the Town of Huntington, claims the radioactive contamination was far more extensive than Mr. Nolan admitted publicly at the time.

After the radiation detector was installed, Mr. Perks wrote several interoffice memos to his superiors telling them about the increased frequency of the incineration of radioactive materials  and the danger to the employees who had no haz-mat gear or protective equipment.  Mr. Perks complained they were not being informed about the serious nature of the events and insisted according to the union contract and New York State labor law; the Town and Ogden Martin were violating “The Right To Know” laws.  Town officials responded to his concern at a meeting on May 10, 2000 according to Mr. Perks, where he was told about his concerns, according to him,  “Management will take it under advisement.” 

On May 30, 2000 Josephine Jahier, Deputy Director of the Town of Huntington Environmental Waste Management, working directly under Mr. Nolan responded to a memo from Mr. Perks, then the Harbormaster/Oil Spill Response Manager,  regarding his concerns over the number of incidents tripping the newly installed radiation detectors and the fact that he and the staff working at the newly capped landfill at the entrance to the incinerator, did not have proper hazmat and other protective gear, despite the obvious need.
(from the Memo from Josephine Jahier to Bill Perks dated May 30, 2000)
“Your concern and memo of 5-17-(2000) regarding radioactive material detected at Ogden Martin has been received and duly noted.  The director (Nolan) and I have discussed this and we will be setting up a meeting with you shortly to hear your concerns.  In the meantime, it will not be your responsibility to respond to these detections.”  

A document about the radioactive waste dated May 18, 2000 from the facility manager at Ogden Martin; Thomas Chambers,  shows that from January to April of that year there were 25 incidents of radioactivity at the plant.  Mr. Chambers wrote:

“With the exception of  (3) ferrous metal loads returned from Gershow recycling most all incidents involved metal isotopes utilized in diagnostic testing.  In the beginning of April 2000 we raised the detection level of the Bicron radiation detector to (5) times background and therefore the amount of detections dropped off considerably in April.

What or who gave them the right to raise the background level of the radiation detector? Perks asked.

Mr. Perks said he was even more concerned for his personal health and the health of the general public according to him after the May 30th Jahier memo telling him not to get involved. 

On June 6, 2000 Mr. Perks sent a three page interoffice memorandum RE: Responsibility of Radioactive Material Detection at Ogden Martin Facility
To: Ms. Jahier (and Mr. Nolan) in order to prepare himself for their upcoming meeting mentioned by Jahier in her earlier memo.  He prepared a list of questions and concerns of his:  From the memo unedited as follows:

What other properly trained and certified Town law enforcement employees (Who enforce Town Code Chapter 120-21) are responsible to investigate and respond to these radioactivity detections, contamination and uncontrolled releases?
Has Ogden Martin notified the Town of Huntington with regard to each radioactive material detection problem in the past as requested by Smithtown Department of Public Safety?
What agencies are Ogden Martin required reporting radioactive material detections problems to?
What coordinated efforts have been made between the Town of Huntington and with the Town of Smithtown or other regulatory agencies as it relates to radioactivity problems at the Ogden Martin facility in the past?
Have there been any summonses issued for previous contamination problems at Ogden Martin facility as regulated in the Town Code (Chapter 120-21)?
Are there any reports filed regarding previous radioactive material detection problems or prevention efforts at Ogden Martin facility?
Why did Ogden Martin just install a radioactive materials detection system this past year at their East Northport facility?
Were there any regulations requiring Ogden Martin to  install the new radiation detector?   
How did Ogden Martin handle radioactive contamination at their East Northport facility prior to the installation of their new alarm system?
What are the minimum acceptable levels of radioactivity now being brought into the Ogden  Martin facility?
Who authorized the raising of the minimum threshold of the radioactive material detector?
What has Ogden Martin done with possible numerous containers of contaminated materials that were rejected from Gershow Recycling Center and returned to Huntington in past years?
Has the ash from the Ogden Martin facility in East Northport been checked for contamination before it was shipped to cap the Babylon landfill?
With regard to your exclusion of my further investigation and enforcement at the Ogden Martin facility (enforcement of Town Code Chapter 120-21), are you advocating selective enforcement?
When did Ogden Martin institute a SOP (Standard Operating Procedure) for radioactive material detection at their East Northport facility?
Why have other employees, not located at the plant, been given an SOP for the radioactive material detection at Ogden Martin facility and have I been excluded?
Were any Town of Huntington employees notified of the related exposure problems and health risks at the Ogden Martin facility concerning radioactive materials?
Why hasn’t the problems of radioactive contamination at the Ogden Martin facility been brought to the attention of the Oil and Toxic and Flammable Material Spillage Committee?
If the radioactive materials detector goes off again, should I just start running for Kings Park. (I’m serious) 
"The recent training program given by the Town of Huntington, conducted at the Huntington Fire Department in which I specifically instructed “ZERO TOLERANCE” for any radioactive contamination problems.  My geographic location to the shipments received of any questionable contamination to the Ogden Martin facility is cause for my personal health concerns as well of the general public."   
The memo was cc’d to:
Town Board, Town of Huntington       
The Oil and Toxic and Flammable Material Spillage Committee Members
Dr. L. Miller and Members of the EEO Complaint Review Committee
Lisa Baisley, Personnel Officer
Harry Hennessey Jr., Local 342
Angela Vacerca, Suffolk County Department of Civil Service
Edward Yule Jr., Esq.

Mr. Perks claims the meeting with Mr. Nolan and Ms. Jahier never happened and to this day some of those questions have never been answered because the Town of Huntington  pays attorneys to keep the information relating to an investigation of the landfill not only from the public, but from the State Attorney General’s office as well.

On March 3, 2003  C. Michael Higgins wrote a 3 page letter to Ms. Jahier and Ms. Baisley the Personnel Director for the Town of Huntington regarding alleged violations of "Right to Know" laws.
Mr. Higgins asked questions regarding the landfill in East Northport:
He asked about materials and the nature of the waste that was in the landfill, a description of any covers or liners and the date(s) installed, the type and depth of cover material (i.e. topsoil, crushed rock etc.), if any synthetic covers or liners were installed, the depth of material between the synthetic cover and the surface, the composition of that material and the names, addresses and telephone numbers of any contractors that placed any material, whether natural, synthetic, or processed on top of the landfill after it ceased operating.  

Mr. Higgins asked many more questions in the letter including asking for a list of all persons who had worked at the plant for the last three years (1999-2003) and a description of the "Right to Know" education and training programs that have been given during the last three years to people who work at the plant.  Mr. Higgins also wanted to know the Town's procedures for determining the specific employees who must receive the "Right to Know" training, assurance and proof that they had received the training, but most important Mr. Higgins asked for the names, address and social security numbers of all employees who had worked at the plant who handled or used toxic substances and the toxic substances to which these employees were exposed for the last three years.

According to documents dated October 23, 2009 the Town of Huntington paid Madison Avenue Attorneys Bond, Schoeneck &  King, PLLC,   $3,147 dollars for work from August 10, 2009 through Sept 20, 2009 for work related to the" legislative history of the right to know law"  and "the calculation of penalties thereunder".   Mr. Perks claims the Town is still trying to block information relating to issues raised by Mr. Perks and of interest to the State Attorney General’s Office. The documents show the Town’s outside attorneys also finalized a letter to Assistant Attorney General, C. Michael Higgins,  nearly ten years after Mr. Perks notified the Attorney Generals Office of his concerns of radiation at the plant and seven years after Mr. Higgins' letter to Ms. Jahier and Ms Baisley.  

For nine years prior to the radiation detector being installed, the facility now known as Covanta Energy, then Ogden Martin, began burning garbage from Smithtown and Huntington.  Although they were strictly forbidden from burning any radioactive waste at the time, both medical or industrial, there was no requirement that a radiation detector be installed at the plant. At that time Ogden Martin became the last of the four waste-to energy plants on Long Island to have one, something Mr. Perks claims did not go unnoticed by the carters back then, who probably sent all their radiated waste to Huntington, knowing there was no way to know if it was "hot" without a radiation detector -because radiation is colorless and odorless.

In 2003 Kevin Gershowitz, a vice president at Gershow spoke to The New York Times and said the Huntington plant was the only place Gershow had ever received radiated material from.  “Even a small amount of radiated metal would make an entire beam worthless.” (Huntington, Garbage-Burning Plant Stirs Radiation Fears by David Winzelberg; The New York Times, January 19, 2003)

According to Mr. Perks it wasn’t until Gershow was notified that one of the foundries they shipped the metal to became hot (radiated from hot scrap or grizzly) and they traced it back to Gershow in Medford, that Gershow was forced to install a radiation detector.  It was only then that they caught the "hot loads" coming from Ogden Martin on a regular basis Mr. Perks said.

The ash from the Huntington plant was dumped at the Brookhaven and Babylon Landfills, according to The New York Times article.

Back in 2003, Frank Petrone,  Huntington Supervisor, was also quoted in The New York Times article and called Mr. Perks activity filing grievances “a criminal activity” because he filed over 80 grievances with his union about the situation.  The Town attorney, Thelma Neira also spoke on the record and called this “just another complaint” from Mr. Perks.

But the memos from Mr. Perks eventually sparked the Department of Labor to investigate and demand that the Town come up with a viable plan for a radiation emergency or face daily fines of several hundred dollars if not in compliance.

Mr. Perks did in fact contact:  The New York State DEC, The Department of Labor, The Department of Health, The United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission, The State of New York Bureau of Radiation and Hazardous Site Management (DEC), the Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office, the Attorney General’s Office and a cast of political characters just as long between 2000 and the present.

Mr. Perks was portrayed in the newspaper as an overly litigious person with a sexual harassment lawsuit hanging over his head.  Mr. Perks says he is a target because he is telling an unwelcome truth.

Mr. Perks background includes: State of New York Fire Training Certificate in Hazardous Materials First Responder Operations, Instructor Evaluator Training Certificate from the Nassau County Police Department, Incident Safety Officer Training Certificate, Incident Commander/Hazwoper Supervisor/Marine Spill Response OSHA Certification (OSHA 29 CFR 1910.20) 40 hours of OSHA Hazwoper training, numerous refresher courses certified by OSHA and has held a license as a private investigator in New York State and a firearm permit. Mr. Perks said he was the only man in his office with a college degree.

On February 18, and May 12, 1999 NDL Organization Inc. located at 1000 Lower South Street in Peekskill, New York conducted an analysis under Gamma Spectroscopy of the Ash Content, Debris and Sludge (Slag & Debris) from the Ogden Martin Facility at 99 Town Road in East Northport and found that it contained in Thorium 232, Uranium 238, K-40 (Potassium) and Cesium 137.


Uranium-238+D at 8.6 pCi/g              Half Life:  4.46 Billion Years
Thorium-232 +D at 91.2 pCi/g            Half Life:  14 Billion
K-40 (Potassium)  at 0.94 pCi/g         Half Life: 1.25 Billion Years                                                  Cesium-137  at 0.82 pCi/g                  Half Life:   30 Years

Thorium- 232 is classified as a carcinogenic and emits alpha particles. It is extremely insoluble, but can become more soluble in the presence of high concentrations of organic materials.
Uranium-238 emits alpha particles.  They are less penetrating than other forms of radiation, and weak gamma rays. As long as it remains outside the body, uranium poses little health hazard, if inhaled or ingested, however, its radioactivity poses increased risks of lung cancer and bone cancer. Uranium is also chemically toxic at high concentrations and can cause damage to internal organs, notably the kidneys.
K-40 (Potassium)  at 0.94 pCi/g  Half Life: 1.25 Billion Years 
Cesium-137  at 0.82 pCi/g            Half Life:   30 Years
Half-life is the period of time it takes for a substance undergoing decay to decrease by half. (Information from:  The Environmental Health Division of the Wisconsin State Laboratory relating to Radiochemistry)

Radium 226 was listed on other reports as one of the many isotopes found at Ogden Martin and removed by either NDL or Radiac.

Radium-226  has a half-life of 1622 years and emits alpha particles; health implications are bone sarcomas and head carcinomas.

Other reports from Radiac and NDL show isotopes present of I-131 (Iodine), Mo-99 (Molybdenun), Te-99m (Technetium) and I-123 and the aforementioned Thorium 232,  and Radium 226.  What is disturbing about the reports are they are sparsely filled out and in many cases, they are missing what would appear to be critical information including the nature of the isotope present.  In at least 6 reports the space to identify the isotope is left blank, yet the material was carted away by Radiac.

A report dated May 4, 2000  contains the statement,  "Coordinate with the Town Of Islip Hazmat"
and the rest of the paperwork including the nature of the radioactive material they were dealing with is completely blank.

Other paperwork is similarly missing key pieces of data.

An application in the name of Ogden Martin Systems of Huntington marked for renewal of previous permit no: 4342-31-99-Y names Mr. Thomas Chambers as responsible for radioactive waste shipments.  It also lists the total amount of allowable waste permitted under the Class Y Permit with a $200 dollar fee:
An annual total of no more than 75 cubic feet of radioactive waste for disposal, storage or waste processing within the State.  The document lists Th-232 +D and U-238 +D as the radiological materials  to be disposed of at an estimated annual radioactivity in Curies at .001 Curies.  NDL Organization, Inc in Peekskill is listed as the Authorized Waste Collector.  The space for the date the permit covers- is blank. 

In 1999 most of the radioactive waste was removed by NDL,   (records show that between Jan 1999 and December 1999, the Town paid over $49,000 to deal with the radiated waste from Gershow and to NDL) but in 2000 and 2001, a company called RADIAC Environmental Services at 261 Kent Avenue in Brooklyn removed the radioactive waste to their facility near the Williamsburg Bridge.  

In a March 29, 2001 letter from Arthur Green Director of Operations for RADIAC to Mr. Chambers at COVANTA,   (formerly Ogden Martin) Mr. Green wrote:
Enclosed find RADIAC  "Emergency Response Reports" detailing our response activities at your facility from January 2000 to date.  The dose rate upon discovery has been left blank for you to fill in since we have no record of the initial dose rate which caused the alarm on your Bicron scale detector to be activated.
For years radioactive materials travelled on route 112 from Huntington to Gershow and back, yet until the radiation detector was installed there was no way to know that, according to Mr. Perks.

Records show that Phil Nolan was apprised of the radioactivity when he was cc’d as Director of Environmental Waste Management on the May 17, memo from Mr. Perks to Josephine Jahier,  RE:  Radioactivity at Ogden Martin.

“Back during the radiation events, Mr. Nolan never contacted anyone regarding the problem and now he’s gone one step further in Islip and is trying to say that what is buried is done.” Mr. Perks noted.

Radioactive waste removed from Ogden Martin plant was taken to  Radiac, located in Brooklyn and to NDL Organization in Peekskill, New York.

                       Where In The World is... the Driver of Truck # 19?

The Town paid Gershow many thousands of dollars when they would return the radioactive loads to Ogden Martin and an interesting detail provided from the documents show that it was always one truck that did all the returns of the radioactive material…truck # 19.

"Mr. Nolan will probably say I am a disgruntled former employee, which in this case is true.” Mr. Perks said, adding, “For Mr. Nolan to say the contamination is done is false.  These toxins threaten our water supply every time it rains.  The entire aquifer is at risk as the water travels 1 foot per day underground. Once again Mr. Nolan’s decisions are detrimental to the health and safety of our residents and I hope the DEC does not listen to him and enforces the law.”

Mr. Perks insisted, “The longer Mr. Nolan stalls, the more poison goes into our drinking water. The State knows it, the DEC knows it, the EPA knows it and it must be capped.  Some of the radiological materials found in the Brookhaven landfill ash have half-lives of several billion years and Mr. Nolan believes after twenty years, toxins in the Islip landfill are already a done deal?  My question to him is “What are his environmental credentials and training?”

Mr. Perks added, “It’s a lot cheaper and more prudent to cap the landfill than to have to close all the drinking water wells for contamination or to blend it with clean water.”

Freelance Investigations contacted the Town of Islip to get any comment or reaction from Mr. Nolan to the remarks made by Mr. Perks (which were supplied to them in advance of this story being published at their request) or to comment on the information from documents obtained by Freelance Investigations.  

Amy Basta, spokesperson for Mr. Nolan and the Town of Islip said for the record,  “Mr. Nolan is not going to dignify William Perks' allegations with a response.”

Mr. Perks responded to that by saying “This is typical shoot the messenger.  I was not looking for any dignity.  I was a whistleblower... period.”


  1. RADIAC has been fined $25,000 for safety violations in the last ten years. A bill prohibiting the storage of radioactive material within 1500 feet of a school is waiting for the governor's signature. Introduced by Joe Lentol (D-Williamsburg) the bill would force RADIAC to move out of the spot is has operated near the Williamsburg Bridge for over 40 years because there is a middle school within 1200 feet of their facility. RADIAC insisted it has safely decontaminated chemical and stored radioactive waste safely for over 42 years. Aaron Short (Courier-Life dated July 14, 2010) from the NEW YORK POST

  2. It would appear Supervisor Nolan never read an updated version of the 1980 USGS Report "Leachate Plumes in Ground Water From Babylon and Islip Landfills, Long Island, NY". Based upon Figure 14 in excerpts posted @, the plume has been transporting deadly toxins like those listed in Table 2 into the Great South Bay for decades. In fact, by 1972 its radiotoxic plume was about to cross Sunrise Highway; headed for a stream feeding Brown Creek. Once in the Creek the toxins listed in Table 2 move into the Great South Bay far more quickly than slow-moving, toxic-groundwater & fume plumes. To cover all this up, the SCWA and SCDHS have been submitting fraudulent drinking water quality reports to the NYS Health Department, which the EPA has entrusted to enforce the Safe Drinking Water Act. Proof of this fraud was included in my May 14th letter to Judge Ukiley @

  3. We need more sites like this. FAIR (Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting) has done great work over the years but they mostly deal with NYC and have become a bit entrenched as organizations do as they age. I continue to ask, where are the Woodward and Bernsteins? What happened to the investigate reporters? What happened to the media? At some point, they lost their courage and in doing so, they were no longer capable of uncovering the truth.

  4. Here are two examples to show why radioactive scrap metals is so dangerous:
    I. Toxic Lead Example: America's NSF-61 leaching standard guards against the use of recycled copper containing any isotope of Lead. The EPA-MCL's for Lead-204 and Lead-210 are, respectively, 15 micrograms/liter & 0.0136 picograms/liter -- an immeasurable amount nearly a billion times smaller because it emits 1.2 picocuries/liter. A liquid lead-bismuth alloy is used to cool military nuclear reactors. ("Small Modular Reactors", pg. 29, IEEE Spectrum. August 2010). So it's no coincidence that Lead-210 & Bismuth-214 are found in well water near nuclear weapons facilities like the Brookhaven National Laboratory (BNL) here on Long Island.

    II. Radiotoxic Cesium-137 Example: In Tammiku (Estonia) a group of three men were responsible for a similar incident: they burgled a radioactive waste store to steal scrap metal. One of them picked up a metal pipe and placed it in his pocket. This metal pipe was a very strong 137Cs source which gave a high localised dose to the man’s leg (1800 Sv local, 4 Sv whole body). He was admitted a few days later to hospital where he claimed to have had an accident in the woods. He died shortly after as a result of whole body irradiation from the source. Before going to the hospital, he left the source in his house where it then irradiated other members of his family and his dog (which died as a result). His son suffered a localised radiation burn (local dose of 25 Sv, whole body 3.6 Gy) which resulted in the amputation of fingers, when he inadvertently handled the source when looking for tools to repair his bicycle. When a medical doctor saw these burns it was understood that an ionising radiation accident was in progress. The man's wife got a 500 mSv dose while his mother got a 2.25 Sv dose.[8][9][10] It is interesting to note that the scrap metal industry was involved twice in this: the caesium source being originally found in a shipment of scrap metal which was brought into the country (at that point it was thought to be a 60Co source based on half thickness measurements). The source was placed in the radioactive waste store for safekeeping, which was subsequently entered by the men who were intent on stealing scrap metal. (From: )