Three workers died June 29 in New York City after being overcome by hydrogen sulfide fumes at a private waste transfer plant. The men died while trying to escape an 18-ft-deep hole filled with three feet of water at Regal Recycling Plant Co., a private water transfer plant on Douglas Avenue in Jamaica, Queens.

The three workers at the scene included father and son, Shlomo Dahan, 49, and Harel Dahan, 23, from S. Dahan Sewer Specialists in South Ozone Park as well as Rene Francisco Rivas, 52, a Regal maintenance worker who tried to rescue the pair.

Officials said that the father and son were trying to clean out a backup in the hole when the son lost his balance and fell in. The father went in after him by dropping a ladder into the hole but both were overcome with noxious fumes. The Regal worker went in after them but also fell victim to the deadly gas. Firefighters found the three victims face down.

"At 100 parts per million it is considered imminently dangerous to life and health," said John Sudnik, a Fire Dept. of New York deputy assistant chief. "We had 200 parts per million in the hole.�

Police are currently studying surveillance cameras for possible footage of the accident and the New York State Dept. of Environmental Conservation and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration are also investigating the accident.

According to Maureen Wren, a spokeswoman for the DEC, Regal who was issued a permit in 1991 is licensed to process 600 tons of municipal waste and 266 tons of construction debris every day and currently has no violations.

However, according to OSHA records, violations that included improper floor and wall openings and respiratory protection were recently found during an inspection at the plant in which Royal Waste Systems, which is affiliated with Regal was ordered to pay thousands of dollars in fines.

Royal Waste Systems offered no comment.