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State Asked To Investigate Landfill Near Brookhaven School « CBS New York


BELLPORT, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — It’s 275 feet tall, a mountain of ash and debris.

The Brookhaven town landfill has become a growing landmark in Suffolk County, and now some who live and work next to the facility want it closed due to health concerns, CBS2’s Jennifer McLogan reported Thursday.

For 38 years, Theresa Palermo has taught at Frank P. Long Intermediate School, in the shadow of the massive Brookhaven town landfill.

“I went to school with my shirt over my mouth, gagging as I tried to get into the building,” Palermo told CBS2’s Jennifer McLogan on Thursday.

MORE: Teachers Fear Nearby Landfill Is Behind Rash Of Cancer Cases At Brookhaven School

Palermo, a non smoker, was diagnosed with lung cancer. In 2005, her left lung was removed.

She is one of 35 employees at Long Intermediate with documented cancers. That’s one-third of the workforce.

New York state has been asked to investigate cancer clustering in the building and other complaints.

“The kids have problems with the breathing,” Palermo said. “Our eyes are irritated constantly. I have chronic dizziness.”

Other problems include headaches, sinus issues and rashes.

“We are constantly sending kids to the nurse,” Palermo said.

Two dozen teachers and community residents have filed a lawsuit against the town of Brookhaven for dragging its feet in responding to years of health complaints and demands to modernize the landfill, so that dust odors and bacteria are contained, CBS2’s McLogan reported.

On a breezy Thursday the odors were strong outside the school. The landfill is scheduled to reach capacity and close in five to seven years. Until then, it generates $40 million annually into the town budget.

Environmental groups claim the town is more worried about the bottom line than citizens’ health, but Brookhaven remains steadfast.

“The town operates the landfill under a permit issued by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, who monitor the facility around the clock. As a result of testing, issues claimed are not caused by the landfill,” the town said in a statement.

“This is about people who want their voices heard. They want their health protected and this is an action of last resort to bring it before a judge, an impartial person who will look at the evidence and render a decision,” said Adrienne Esposito of the Citizens Campaign for the Environment.

“Change has to happen now. We can’t walk into the building come September,” Palermo said.

The town said the landfill will continue to be monitored and tested.

The South Country School District said ensuring the health and safety of its students, faculty and staff is priority number one. Results of extensive testing show air and soil are within normal range for a school building in Suffolk County.

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