SAUGERTIES, N.Y. (NEWS10) — Attorney General Letitia James filed a lawsuit on Thursday against Joseph and Rachel Karolys, alleging they persistently and flagrantly violating environmental laws at three garbage dumps in Saugerties.

The suit comes after Ulster County Executive Pat Ryan agitated for an investigation in a letter sent to James in November.

“The reckless actions of Mr. Karolys put the residents of Saugerties in danger and has put the environment at risk.”

Pat Ryan
Ulster County Executive

In 2016, Karolys applied to open and operate a 1,250 cubic yard waste management facility that processes uncontaminated soil, rock, concrete, brick, and block asphalt waste from Ulster and Dutchess Counties. Once permits were granted, inspectors regularly identified violations of permitted operating procedures.

Inspectors say they found unauthorized waste, poor or absent recordkeeping of incoming materials, and no implementation of mandatory measures preventing water pollution. Samples indicate that lead, mercury, and several other toxic chemicals are present on-site.

The DEC also say there was too much waste on-site, and that construction and demolition debris was accepted from New York City, far beyond the borders of Ulster and Dutchess Counties.

Each issue violates registrations and permits that are based on applications and documentation from Karolys. Without following water pollution control directives from the state, the dumps allegedly violated solid waste requirements on an ongoing basis, despite the Department of Environmental Conservation repeatedly trying to resolve the problem.

Karolys created two unauthorized dumpsites in Saugerties instead of complying. DEC staff say they found approximately 55,000 cubic yards of solid waste: Rock, asphalt, coal, ash, slag, brick, concrete, plaster, and glass. At these sites, samples indicated the presence of lead, mercury, DDT, and several other pesticides and chemicals.

“New York’s environmental laws are in place for a reason: To protect public health and our natural resources. Mr. Karolys not only didn’t follow our laws, he repeatedly and flagrantly flouted them—ignoring the harms that his illegal conduct posed to the local community.”

Letitia James

All three dumps are in a largely residential area at the foot of the Catskills near the Esopus Creek, the Hudson River, the Ashokan Reservoir, and Overlook Mountain, one of the most visited spots in the Catskill Forest Preserve.

According to the Office of the Attorney General, unauthorized solid waste remains at all three sites, and erosion, sediment, and water pollution control measures have still not been deployed. The suit seeks to revoke registrations, order the Karolys to lawfully dispose of the waste for all three sites, and potentially assess tens of thousands in daily penalties.

Take a look at the 30-page filing: