Lawsuit claims Long Island landfill destroying residents' health, quality of life

BROOKHAVEN, Suffolk County (WABC) -- Health concerns have led community members, teachers and parents to formally file a lawsuit against a Long Island town over a landfill they say is diminishing their quality of life.

The 24 plaintiffs claim the Town of Brookhaven is ignoring the public outcry over the health impact the Brookhaven Landfill odors are having on residents and those who work and attend the nearby Frank P Long Intermediate School.

They describe the landfill as a "276 feet high mountain of ash, construction material and rotting debris" located in the middle of communities and next to the school, and those living and working nearby frequently complain about noxious odor, dust and harmful emissions that they claim are causing health ailments.

They alleged that the Town of Brookhaven and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation have ignored them and failed to protect the health of the community.

The lawsuit includes teachers, employees, parents and students at the school, who they say are among those suffering serious illnesses. Plaintiffs also include representatives of estates of some teachers who have passed away, as well as residents in surrounding communities seeking to recover damages for personal injuries, wrongful death, nuisance and trespass.

"The town has failed to take reasonable steps to prevent harmful substances and noxious odors from polluting the surrounding communities including Frank P. Long School," attorney E. Christopher Murray said. "The plaintiffs have suffered for far too long living and working under these unsafe conditions. Teachers and students at Frank P Long School have documented both acute and chronic health impacts, while residents have their daily lives adversely impacted by the odors and emissions. The town has ignored the public's pleas for help and has repeatedly failed to mitigate the odors and protect the health of residents. The government has chosen to ignore the public, but these 24 plaintiffs will get their day in court."

Murray said there have been 35 cases of cancer over the last number of years among the staff of 105 who work at the school.

"That far exceeds anything you would expect to see, taking into account turnover and the length of time people have worked at that school," he said.

Craig V. Rizzo, attorney for the Town of Brookhaven, released the following statement:

"While the Town of Brookhaven does not generally comment upon pending litigation, this case is without merit and will be vigorously defended."

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