Toxic chemicals found in soil at popular horse riding center on Long Island

ByEyewitness News via WABC logo
Thursday, October 13, 2016
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Tim Fleischer has the latest details.

MELVILLE, Long Island (WABC) -- Several contaminates were found in soil sampled from the site of a popular horse riding center on Long Island, officials announced Thursday.

Lab results showed asbestos, PCBs, lead and other heavy metals in the soil at West Hills County Park in Melville.

The Sweet Hills Riding Center was closed when Suffolk County officials began gathering samples from the 855-acre park in August. The facility was used for the boarding of horses, horse-riding and as a summer day camp.

Horses had been roaming in this area for unknown amount of time, and children riding those horses and breathing in toxic dust.

Offials said park contains more acutely hazardous substances than were found at Roberto Clemente Town Park and in significantly higher concentrations than the pollutants at the Brentwood facility where the illegal dumping of construction debris was discovered in 2014.

"What our investigation thus far discloses is that between October of 2015 and August of this year, what we believe to be hundreds of tractor trailer loads of highly toxic and acutely hazardous and contaminated debris were brought into the Sweet Hills Riding center at West Hills County Park in the Town of Huntington and spread throughout the area, on average, 3 1/2 feet deep to 6 feet deep," District Attorney Thomas Spota said.

There are commercial operators in the area that are being investigated for dumping and search warrants have been executed.

These companies normally have to pay up to $5,000 to dispose of their materials, but officials said the dumpers tried to hide the materials by mixing the debris with soil in the park.

About 15 acres of the park was cordoned off on August 26 when piles of dumped materials were found pushed up against trees on trails leading away from the 100-horse stable.

The Sweet Hills Riding Center has been located at the park since 1982. The company issued this statement Thursday:

"The Sweet Hills Riding Center, with a 30 year commitment to the equestrian community and families of Long Island, is continuing to cooperate in the ongoing investigation. This disturbing incident occurred without our knowledge or consent."