[HISTORY: Adopted by the Suffolk County Legislature as indicated in article histories. Amendments noted where applicable. Uncodified sections of local laws amending these provisions are included at the end of this chapter.]
[Adopted 4-12-1983 by L.L. No. 8-1983 (Ch. 324, Art. I, of the 1985 Code)]
The Legislature finds that the growth of industrialization and population in Suffolk County has resulted in an increase in the generation of hazardous wastes. Some of these substances have been illegally discharged into the ground by unscrupulous transporters and generators of these wastes. The Legislature notes that the federal government has officially designated the aquifers below Suffolk County as a sole source for water supply. Long Island's sandy soil makes it easy for spilled materials to seep into the aquifers, thus increasing the dangers to public health imposed by illegal discharge of these wastes. This article is intended to render the improper disposal of hazardous wastes an unprofitable venture.
It is the intent and purpose of this article to safeguard the land and water resources of Suffolk County from hazardous waste pollution. It is the further intent and purpose of this article to regulate the transportation and disposal of hazardous wastes in a manner consistent with Public Law 94-580, the Federal Resource Conservation and Recovery Act of 1976, Article 27 of the New York State Environmental Conservation Law and Article 12 of the Suffolk County Sanitary Code.
For the purposes of this article, the following words and phrases shall have the meanings indicated:
- DISPOSAL or DISPOSE OF
- The discharge, deposit, injection, dumping, spilling, leaking, incineration or placing of any hazardous waste into or on any land or water so that such hazardous waste or any constituent thereof may enter the environment or be emitted into the air or discharged into any waters, including groundwaters.
- A. Included wastes.
- (1) Those wastes identified or listed in regulations promulgated pursuant to Environmental Conservation Law § 27-0903, and all amendments thereto.
- (2) Acute hazardous wastes as identified or listed in regulations promulgated pursuant to Environmental Conservation Law § 27-0903, and all amendments thereto.
- (3) Industrial commercial wastes as identified or listed in Environmental Conservation Law § 27-0303, Subdivision 2, and all amendments thereto.
- B. Hazardous wastes shall not include solid or dissolved materials in domestic sewage.
- C. The prohibitions specified in this article are not applicable to:
- (1) Procedures performed by members of the Suffolk County Police Department when, in the performance of their duties, they come into possession of and must, because of immediate danger to public safety, dispose of highly reactive or unstable materials that may exhibit explosive properties.
- (2) Procedures performed by members of the Suffolk County Hazardous Materials Response Team (Suffolk County Police Department, Department of Fire, Rescue and Emergency Services and Department of Health Services) when, in the performance of their duties, because of immediate danger to public safety, they come into possession of and must transport and temporarily store hazardous wastes.
- A person holding a security interest in a vehicle.
- A person, other than a lienholder, having the property in or title to a vehicle. The term includes a person entitled to the use and possession of a vehicle subject to a security interest in another person, but excludes a lessee under a lease not intended as a security.
- An individual, trust, firm, joint-stock company, corporation (including a government corporation), partnership, association, state, municipality, commission, political subdivision of a state or any interstate body.
- The movement of hazardous wastes from the point of generation to any intermediate points or to the point of ultimate storage, treatment, recovery or disposal.
Any police officer or environmental conservation officer may seize any conveyance, including motor vehicles, trailers, vessels, aircraft or other means of transportation, which he reasonably believes is being used to illegally transport or dispose of hazardous waste as defined herein.
Said seized conveyance shall be subject to forfeiture, as provided in this article, where it is established by a preponderance of credible evidence that the conveyance was used to intentionally, knowingly, recklessly or with criminal negligence transport or dispose of hazardous waste as defined herein.
Nothing in the foregoing shall be deemed to apply to a conveyance used by a duly licensed scavenger waste hauler transporting waste which is accompanied by a signed statement from the generator thereof, certifying that, to the best of the generator's knowledge, the waste is not a hazardous waste as defined herein.
The seized property shall be delivered by the police or environmental conservation officer having made the seizure to the custody of the District Attorney of the County, together with a report of all the facts and circumstances of the seizure.
It shall be the duty of the District Attorney to inquire into the facts of the seizure so reported to him and, if it appears probable that a forfeiture has been incurred by reason of a violation of this article, for the determination of which the institution of proceedings in the Supreme Court is necessary, to cause the proper proceedings to be commenced and prosecuted, within seven days from the date of seizure, to declare such forfeiture, unless, upon inquiry and examination, the District Attorney decides that such proceedings cannot probably be sustained or that the ends of public justice do not require that they should be instituted or prosecuted, in which case the District Attorney shall cause such seized property to be immediately returned to the owner thereof.
Service of notice.
Notice of the institution of the forfeiture proceeding shall be served:
Personally on the owner(s) of the seized property.
The District Attorney shall make reasonable effort to ascertain the existence and identity of any lienholders of the seized property; and if such lienholders are ascertained, they shall be notified of forfeiture proceedings in compliance with procedures of notice pursuant to Subsection C(1)(a) and (b) above.
The forfeiture proceeding shall be conducted as a civil in rem action in which the District Attorney shall have the burden of proving all material facts by a preponderance of credible evidence. Forfeiture shall not be adjudged where the owner(s) establishes by a preponderance of the evidence that:
The use of such seized property was not intentional on the part of an owner and the owner did all that could reasonably have been expected of him to prevent illegal use of the seized property and that owner acted reasonably under all the circumstances.
Said seized property was used by any person other than an owner thereof, while such seized property was unlawfully in the possession of a person who acquired possession thereof in violation of the criminal laws of the United States or of any state.
The District Attorney or the police having custody of the seized property, after such judicial determination of forfeiture, shall dispose of the property seized in any manner not prohibited by law, including:
Use by a law enforcement or other public agency.
Sale at a public auction, upon public notice of at least five days. The net proceeds of any such sale, after deduction of the lawful expenses incurred, shall be paid into the general fund of Suffolk County. Such sale should take place within due regard for the rights of innocent third parties with no knowledge of the illegal activity who hold legitimate recorded liens. Such lienholder should be permitted to intervene in the aforementioned forfeiture proceedings as a matter of right, and any sale of the seized property shall be made subject to said recorded lien.
Whenever any person interested in any property which is seized and declared forfeited under the provisions of this section files with a Justice of the Supreme Court a petition for the recovery of such forfeited property, the Justice of the Supreme Court may restore said forfeited property upon such terms and conditions as he deems reasonable and just, if the petitioner establishes either of the affirmative defenses set forth in Subsection D of this section and that the petitioner was without personal or actual knowledge of the forfeiture proceeding. If the petition shall be filed after the sale of the forfeited property, any judgment in favor of the petitioner shall be limited to the net proceeds of such sale, after deduction of the lawful expenses and costs incurred by the District Attorney.
Nothing contained herein shall be construed as impairing the right or jurisdiction of any department, agency or person having lawful authority to dispose of hazardous wastes seized incidental to execution of the authority granted in this article.