Putnam Valley Fire Sues Over Dumping

Seeks at least $1.75 million in cleanup costs

The Putnam Valley Volunteer Fire Department is suing a contractor and a materials recycler to recover the more than $1.75 million in taxpayer funds it has spent cleaning up contaminated construction fill and debris illegally dumped in 2016 at the site of its new firehouse. 

The federal lawsuit, filed May 19 in White Plains, accuses John Adorno, the owner of Universal Construction in Yorktown Heights, of dumping 10,000 cubic tons of material at the fire department property at 218 Oscawana Lake Road. It also names Metro Green, which recycles construction and excavation material at a facility in Mount Vernon. 

The fire department said “an injustice would result” if Adorno and Metro Green are not ordered to pay for the cleanup. 

According to a state report, Adorno told state Department of Environmental Conservation investigators who visited the site in 2016 that most of the waste came from Metro Green and the rest from a demolition project in the Bronx. 

The material included asphalt, bricks, concrete and lumber. Testing by HDR Engineering, which was hired to clean the site, identified 11 semi-volatile organic compounds, seven metal compounds, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), pesticides and materials containing asbestos. 

A field report from a DEC official who visited the property in 2016 after complaints named a firefighter, Charlie Milo, who, it said, had given the contractor permission to dump. 

The DEC eventually ruled that the fire department was operating a solid-waste management facility without a permit. Under a consent decree, the department paid a $5,000 fine and for the remediation, which was completed in 2021.

HDR said it removed 4,235 tons of fill and 83 tons of asbestos. The work delayed construction of the firehouse and increased costs, according to the department.

In January, the fire department asked state Judge Victor Grossman, who is based in Carmel, to compel Adorno to identify the owners of the sites where the waste originated; the contractors involved in the demolition and excavation; who arranged to have the material dumped at the property; and who drove it there. 

Grossman issued an order in March requiring Adorno to provide documents and testimony in preparation for the federal lawsuit.

The lawsuit is the second involving contamination in Putnam Valley. In December, the Putnam Valley Central School District sued nearly two dozen companies in state court over the contamination of the well that supplies drinking water for students, faculty and staff at its elementary school. It blamed firefighting foams used by the fire department at its facilities on Canopus Hollow and Peekskill Hollow roads.

One thought on “Putnam Valley Fire Sues Over Dumping

  1. Many thanks to The Current for being one of the few news outlets that is reporting on this fiasco.

    I have lived in Putnam Valley for most of my life and been politically involved for decades. In all my years of researching and writing about local politics, I have never seen such a coverup like this one where even our elected officials are keeping mum.

    Now that the two lawsuits have been filed, there is at least some clarity about the facts of the matter. For some reason, the PV Fire Department allowed Mr. Adorno to dump some 17,000 cubic yards of contaminated fill on their property where the new firehouse is being built.

    Although there is only one fireman named in court papers (Charlie Milo), who supposedly gave Adorno the go ahead to dump the fill, it is also clear that Milo was not responsible for the operation of a “solid waste management” facility, as it was termed by the DEC.

    Also, as per the court papers, Mr. Milo was not a FD board member, nor did he have the authority in the first place to allow this massive amount of dumping (information from Putnam County lawsuit filed previously).

    Although the dumping occurred back in 2016, for some unknown reason, the PVFD waited seven years to bring these lawsuits. No one seems to know why.

    As a taxpayer and concerned citizen, I think it’s long past time for our town supervisor and board to get involved. There are two people currently on the board — supervisor Annabi and councilman Luongo — who have been in power and known about this debacle for many years, yet they refuse to act.

    At the very least, Ms. Annabi should demand a full accounting from the FD for the millions that they have been given by the taxpayers. Also, she should demand that the state comptroller’s office get involved and do an audit of all the money that’s been spent on the remediation, which currently is in the neighborhood of $2 million.

    This has gone on long enough and the politicians can no longer hide as the facts are coming out. For our elected officials, their first allegiance must be to the citizen /taxpayers of our town, not the Fire Department. The people of Putnam Valley deserve answers, now.

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