Environmental investigation underway at New Windsor demolition site after tests show contamination

Officers from the DEC and Department of Labor spent much of Thursday at the old Destinta Theater property on Route 94 taking soil samples from a pile of dirt full of construction materials.

Ben Nandy

Jun 7, 2024, 11:30 PM

Updated 6 days ago

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The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation is investigating apparent contamination of a New Windsor property by a trucking company from New Jersey.
Officers from the DEC and Department of Labor spent much of Thursday at the old Destinta Theater property on Route 94 taking soil samples from a pile of dirt full of construction materials.
Town Supervisor Steve Bedetti told News 12 a demolition contractor – Shaffer Trucking of Lyndhurst, New Jersey – that after completing a demolition of a building behind a strip of businesses, Shaffer dumped truckloads of contaminated soil at the site.
The town first ordered Shaffer to stop work when it first appeared the contractor had been filling the demolition site with dirt containing construction debris, which is illegal.
Bedetti said he saw a Shaffer truck dumping more debris at the demo site just days later, recorded the dumping, and called police.
The owner of Shaffer Trucking visited Bedetti at town hall and said the fill was being trucked in from a property in New Jersey.
The contractor commissioned an independent lab analysis.
A report on the soil testing obtained by News 12 shows high levels of lead, mercury, arsenic and chemicals commonly used by dry cleaners, among other contaminants.
The DEC then responded to take soil samples for the agency's own analysis.
A spokesperson confirmed the agency is investigating the site and said the agency will provide additional information when available.
"They thought they were coming to some Orange County podunk town," Bedetti said of Shaffer Trucking, "and thought they were going to come in here and do whatever they wanted, and they didn't realize they were dealing with a savvy crew."
Bedetti said the Orange County district attorney is also looking into the site, though a spokesman for the office could not confirm an investigation is underway.
"Whoever allowed this project to happen had to know that it was going to be a disaster," neighbor of the site Kjerstin Decapua said.
"He can't get away with it for long," Laurie Velez, a neighbor who often walks her dog near the site. "I'm sure there are repercussions for doing something like that."
Bedetti said he was informed by experts that the contaminants are not currently affecting any land around the demolition site and are not affecting the air.
News 12 has called and emailed the property owner and Shaffer Trucking multiple times seeking comment.
Neither had responded as of Friday evening.


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