Legislature approves penalties proposed by Park Committee Chairwoman Kara Hahn that will leave those convicted feeling down in the dumps.
Suffolk County, NY - March 28, 2017 - The penalty for illegally dumping on County owned properties may soon include jail time in Suffolk after Legislators today unanimously approved both increased fines and the potential of up to one year’s imprisonment for anyone convicted. The bill, sponsored by Legislators Kara Hahn, Robert Trotta, Kate Browning, Tom Muratore and Sarah Anker now goes to County Executive Steve Bellone for his signature within the next thirty days.
Once implemented, maximum fines for illegal dumping of non-construction, demolition and hazardous material wastes by a business or corporation will increase to $15,000 from the previous fine of $5,000. The penalty for dumping non-construction materials by an individual will remain at $1,000. If an individual is found dumping construction or demolition material the misdemeanor fine associated with this violation for an individual will increase to $10,000 and $15,000 for a corporation or business. Under the change, both an individual and someone convicted of dumping material on behalf of a commercial entity may be sentenced up to one year in jail. Imposition of the ultimate fine or criminal sentence is within the sentencing court’s discretion.
“For far too long, fines associated with illegal dumping were considered just the cost of doing business. With today’s vote, for those who choose to pursue greed over the health of the public and our environment, your cost of business has just gotten a lot more expensive,” said Legislator Hahn, Chairwoman both of the Legislature’s Parks & Recreation and Environment, Planning and Agriculture Committees. “The one-two combination of increased monetary penalties and potential jail time will hopefully give pause to any person or commercial entity that believes these significant fines and the potential loss of freedom is a cost effective business strategy.”
Illegal dumping on Long Island has emerged as a serious environmental issue and threat to public health following the discoveries of potentially toxic debris within the Town of Islip’s Roberto Clemente Park, Suffolk County’s West Hills County Park and a housing development for military veterans in Islandia. In February, New York State’s Department of Environmental Conservation issued approximately 200 tickets for unlawful disposal, operating without a permit and other violations during stings conducted on Long Island and the Hudson Valley that also identified nine dumping sites upstate.
“For decades, Suffolk County has worked tirelessly to preserve land in order to protect our environment and groundwater. Illegal dumping of hazardous materials and construction waste on County property causes harmful chemicals to seep into our water, which negatively affects our health,” said Legislator Anker. “It is important we do everything in our power to continue to protect our parklands and to ensure that illegal dumping does not occur. By doing so, we are not only preserving the environmental integrity of Suffolk County, but improving the quality of life for all residents.”
"This is a crime against all the residents of Suffolk County,” said Legislator Robert Trotta (R-Kings Park). “I want to make it unprofitable for contractors to dump this material and more importantly I want them going to jail for this.”
“Our parks are vital assets for Suffolk County residents and one of the core recreational resources available to them,” stated Legislator Browning. “The destruction and degradation of our parks is unacceptable and detrimental to our quality of life. Aggressively attacking illegal dumping head on will ensure the sustainability of our parks and preserve one of the many reasons Suffolk County continues to be a great place to live. I applaud Legislator Hahn for her hard work towards preventing this serious problem.”
“This is an important step in protecting our parks and gives teeth to all the legislation we have recently passed on this quality of life issue,” said Legislature Presiding Officer DuWayne Gregory. “I thank Legislator Hahn for her dedication and foresight.”