Legislation Introduced That Could Make Mining Illegal at Sand Land

The Sand Land Mine looking northeast toward Noyac Bay (left) and North Haven-Bay Point-Sag Harbor (center top). The Golf at the Bridge golf course and former racetrack is at left. Peter Boody photo

Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele, Jr. and State Senator Kenneth P. LaValle introduced state legislation last week that would prohibit mining on contaminated lands within State designated Special Groundwater Protection Areas (SGPAs), including the South Fork Morainal Forest in the towns of Southampton and East Hampton, which includes land where the Sand Land mine is located in Noyac.

Eight other areas, including the Central Pine Barrens in the towns of Brookhaven Riverhead and Southampton and the Hither Hills area in East Hampton, are also listed as groundwater protection areas by the state.

The State Legislature designated these SGPAs in 1987 in an effort to protect water quality around sole source aquifers. If adopted, the law would prohibit mining in these areas one year after adoption and would prevent the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation would be prohibited from processing any application for mining on a contaminated site.

“The Sand Land case in the South Fork Morainal Forest in Southampton Town makes it clear that the State DEC has failed to meet the goals set by the State Legislature in 1987 for SGPAs,” said Mr. Thiele in a press release. “The DEC has done a complete reversal by closing a site which was contaminated under their nose to expanding industrial activities and extending mining for at least another eight years. The DEC is not protecting our water, it is rewarding the polluters. This clearly violates the intent of the 1987 law. The State Legislature must step in to insure SGPAs are protected and managed in such a way that maintains or improves existing water quality as was intended back in 1987.”