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Court ruling requiries Putnam landowner to clean up illegal landfill that polluted NYC reservoir 

NEW YORK –A State Supreme Court ruling holds a landowner and his contractor liable for illegally operating a landfill and discharging pollution into a New York City drinking water source that has historically provided water to 1 million New Yorkers daily.  Putnam County Supreme Court Justice Victor Grossman found that Gary Prato, the owner of an estate on the shores of the City’s Croton Falls Reservoir, and his contractor, Anthony Adinolfi (aka Dirtman), violated several state environmental laws in creating and operating the landfill on Prato’s property.   The ruling orders  Prato to conduct a full cleanup of the landfill. A hearing will be held August 15th to determine the specific cleanup activities to be required and the amount of any civil penalties.

“Clean drinking water is not only a necessity, it is a basic right,” said Attorney General Eric Schneiderman.  “The defendants in this case thumbed their noses at the law and, as a result, they threatened a vital source of drinking water for  1 million people.  New York’s environmental protection laws apply to everyone, even those who are rich and powerful, and I will continue to fight to ensure that those who choose to ignore these laws are held fully accountable.”  

In 2009, Prato decided to add a pool house and garage to his 27-acre estate on Croton Falls Road in the Town of Carmel in Putnam County.  Prato arranged with Adinolfi and his company, Dirtman Enterprises, Inc., to provide material necessary to fill in and grade steeply sloped areas as part of the project.   For most of 2010, Adinolfi dumped more than 40,000 cubic acres of fill on the site under Prato’s direction.   Adinolfi provided the fill at no cost – saving Prato up to $560,000 – and did the grading for free.    

The fill dumped at the site consisted of construction and demolition debris containing waste materials, including coal ash and slag.   Sampling of the debris by defendants’ own consultants showed that it contained a variety of likely carcinogens called “polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons” at levels exceeding State standards for protecting public health and the environment.   Some of the fill material eroded and was discharged into the Croton Falls Reservoir.   Although currently off-line awaiting the next year’s projected completion of a filtration plant under Van Cortlandt Park in the Bronx, the Croton Falls Reservoir is part of a drinking water system that historically provided 10% of the drinking water consumed daily in New York City.

Justice Grossman agreed with Attorney General Schneiderman and ruled that Prato and Adinolfi violated multiple state laws and underlying regulations through their activities at the site, including the constructing or operation of a solid waste management facility without obtaining a permit from the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC).