STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. — An Eltingville man alleges the re-opening of Staten Island’s Fresh Kills landfill to waste from the 9/11 terrorist attacks exposed him to toxic and hazardous gasses that caused “an immediate and chronic threat” to his health.
Louis Sofo, 75, who according to public records lives on Gurley Avenue, filed the lawsuit in state Supreme Court, St. George, against the city around seven months after a $34 million settlement was issued to nearly three dozen victims and their families who suffered debilitating cancers after living in the area surrounding the Fresh Kills and Brookfield dumps.
Unlike that lawsuit, which was first filed in 1993, the latest allegations center specifically on the city’s perceived negligence in re-opening Fresh Kills to sift through debris beginning on Sept. 12, 2001, just six months after Staten Islanders thought it was shuttered for good. Both lawsuits were carried out by the law office of Kuharski, Levitz and Giovinazzo.
“Defendant’s re-opening of the Fresh Kills dump and depositing the hazardous and toxic waste from the World Trade Center disaster site resulted in toxic and hazardous emissions, including gasses, vapors, particulates, and leachate, migrating from the Fresh Kills dump onto plaintiff’s property and into the air in the air and water ways near plaintiff’s residence,” alleges the filing.
The city’s first sifting operation lasted 10 months before a second program began on April 2, 2010 after more materials were found at Ground Zero. That effort lasted around 11 weeks, the Advance/SILive.com previously reported.
The lawsuit alleges New York City acted negligently and failed to “take adequate measures to prevent toxic dumping” and did not adequately ensure the waste or its emissions were dealt with safely. The city claimed the waste hauled from Ground Zero did not present health hazards, said court documents.
Sofo’s injuries were not specified in the filing, which alleges, “[the] plaintiff has sustained personal injuries and emotion[al] distress in an amount exceeding the jurisdictional limits of all lower courts which would otherwise have jurisdiction.”
Nicholas Paolucci, a spokesman for the city Law Department, said the city has “spent hundreds of millions of dollars to ensure that steps were taken to close the various landfills properly, so that they would eliminate any potential issues to communities.”
“Numerous reports by various levels of government and all the scientific evidence conclude that the Staten Island landfills were not a source of cancer,” said Paolucci. “We will review the specific claims in this suit and respond in the litigation.”
Sofo’s lawyer did not respond for a request for comment.
While the city issued a settlement in the aforementioned landfill case, no formal admission of culpability was made.
One previous study indicated the city Health Department found no cancer link to the Fresh Kills landfill, despite higher rates among the population living near the former dump. Officials from the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene wrote in their report that a study conducted from 1995 to 2015 “found little evidence of an association between living close to the former Fresh Kills landfill and cancer.”
Those findings echoed a report from the New York State Department of Health, which found no environmental exposures responsible for the borough’s elevated cancer levels.
Now, the Fresh Kills landfill is better known as Fresh Kills Park and has been under construction since 2008. It will be almost three times the size of Central Park and the largest developed park in New York City in over 100 years.