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Engineer Lied About Cleanup of Toxic Staten Island Lot, State Says

By Nicholas Rizzi | January 23, 2017 2:09pm

ARROCHAR — The lead engineer of a company cleaning up gas contaminants from a Hylan Boulevard lot has been arrested for lying about the condition of the land, officials said.

Vincent Nantista, who works for Long Island-based Soil Mechanics Drilling Corp., filed documents saying a remediation project at 900 Hylan Boulevard had successfully cleaned up the land, according to the Department of Environmental Conservation.

DEC officials later discovered his filings weren't accurate, they said.

"When companies put profits above safety, it jeopardizes the health of our environment and communities," said DEC commissioner Basil Seggos in a statement.

The former gas station at 900 Hylan Blvd. caused significant contamination to the site's soil, the DEC said.

After a new development was planned for the site, Soil Mechanics was hired to monitor and clean up the wells there, officials said.

Nantista, who's the vice president of Soil Mechanics and the project's lead engineer, got frustrated with the slow pace after several years of work and started to alter the data of field technicians.

Eventually, he made it appear the cleanup was complete, even though DEC investigators later confirmed contaminants were still present, the DEC said.

DEC staff started to suspect the company was submitting false reports and began an investigation into the project in June 2015.

Nantista was arrested on Jan. 18 and charged with 11 counts of falsifying business records and eight counts of offering a false instrument for filing, officials said. He pleaded not guilty and was released without bail.

The Bureau of Environmental Crimes Investigation and the Staten Island District Attorney's office seized all materials related to the project from Soil Mechanics' two offices.

If convicted, Nantista could face up to four years in prison and be ordered to pay up to $95,000 in fines, prosecutors said.

His lawyer did not immediately respond to a request for comment.