The State Department of Environmental Conservation has awarded a new permit to the Sand Land mine in Noyac after a State Supreme Court judge declined to grant a temporary restraining order that would have stopped the department from processing such a permit. According to New York State Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele Jr., now that the D.E.C. has given the mine a new permit, nothing is stopping Sand Land from digging down 40 more feet within the 31 acres for which it already has state permission.
On Friday, a coalition of elected officials, Mr. Thiele among them, nonprofit organizations, and neighbors fighting the expansion of the mine took their case to an appellate court, seeking to restrain Wainscott Sand and Gravel, which operates the Sand Land mine, from acting on the new permit.
“Whether the expansion is horizontal or vertical, on that site it is a threat to the environment and to the groundwater,” Mr. Thiele said this week. “They’re digging in an area where the Suffolk County Department of Health Services has demonstrated that the groundwater below has been polluted. That’s why I think a restraining order over all aspects of the new permit or the expansion is warranted.”
Joining Mr. Thiele in filing the Article 78 complaint and the subsequent petition to the Appellate Division of State Supreme Court were Southampton Town, the Noyac Civic Council, Group for the East End, Citizens Campaign for the Environment, and others.
In May, Acting New York State Supreme Court Justice James H. Ferreira put mining temporarily on hold for the three-acre "stump dump" into which Sand Land sought to expand, finding there was evidence “sufficient to demonstrate that there is a danger of irreparable harm” if mining were allowed to expand there.
John Tintle, Sand Land's owner, could not be could be reached for comment this week, but after the article was first published on Thursday, Brian E. Matthews, the attorney representing Sand Land, asserted that the D.E.C. "properly reviewed the permit" under their normal procedures and standards. "It is an established scientific and legal fact that there is no correlation between mining sand and gravel and groundwater contamination," he said.
In March, the D.E.C. announced it would allow Sand Land to operate for eight more years, dig 40 feet deeper, and expand across three more acres into what is known as the “stump dump” before it must begin a 10-year reclamation period. The agreement, which also set up a groundwater monitoring program, appeared to be a reversal of the D.E.C.’s previous stance from September 2018, when it appeared poised to shut down the Noyac mine.
Representatives of the D.E.C. did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Correction: An earlier version of this article incorrectly identified the area of the Sand Land mine that had been enjoined from deeper digging by a state judge. It has been corrected and a statement from the attorney has been added.