Investigation on the Bethpage Plume to Start this Spring

New water tower is under construction in Bethpage. ©Zhang 2017

By Dyondra Wilson and Rongyi Zhang

A new engineering investigation will be conducted this spring by The New York Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), to contain plumes of contaminated groundwater in Bethpage.

With fear of it potentially migrating to other water wells, the toxic Northrop Grumman water plume is currently affecting the community of Bethpage.  Governor Cuomo held a press conference and round table to address the issue of Long Island water quality at SUNY Farmingdale on, Feb. 17.

“The purpose of today’s meeting is to let the public know that we are ramping up our investigation of the plume with the intent of controlling it from further migration,” Basil Seggos, DEC Commissioner, said about Friday’s roundtable meeting.

Solutions for the new investigation will include field surveys and engineering analyses to help fully identify options to contain the contamination of the plumes. The DEC is expecting to release preliminary findings for public review by the end of 2017.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo created the Water Quality Rapid Response team, which Seggos co-chairs, to identify and address drinking water contamination on Long Island.

“Our job right now is to ensure that we not only stop the plume from migrating but also holding the polluters responsible,”Seggos said. “In this case Grumman and the Navy and making sure they are dedicating enough resources to protecting the people of Long Island.”

The 30-year-old plume which is nearly three miles long by one mile wide, is the largest contaminated plume in the state. The plume is filled with industrial solvents left by the Navy and Northrop Grumman, according to Governor Cuomo’s press release.

“I grew up here, so what I’m more concerned about is, why are we still having this discussion, why hasn’t the plume been resolved, why hasn’t Grumman been held accountable?” Marie Rever, a local resident, said. She feels she has been fooled and lied to for far too long.

“For years Bethpage was touted as having the cleanest, and best tasting drinking water, boy did they pull one over everybody,” Rever said.

Nineteen million gallons of groundwater are already affected according to a statement from the Hearing on water quality and contamination and have made it three miles from the Grumman site towards Southern State Parkway. The state will use Superfund money to intercept the plume and its contamination by pumping and treating the contaminated water out of the ground, and replenish the underground aquifer, according to Cuomo’s press release.

“I think it’s horrendous. I won’t drink the water here,” William Etter, who lives near the now-closed Bethpage water tower, said.

“If or when a drinking water well becomes contaminated on Long Island it is required by law to be filtered down to standards. That filtration can be very expensive and costly, but it’s also very necessary,” Adrienne Esposito, Executive Director of the Citizens Campaign for the Environment, said.

Esposito compares the underground water plume to a smokestack in the sky, that travels with toxins, contaminating Bethpage’s water system.

“It has a distinctive different taste now from whatever chemicals they are adding to the water to make it drinkable. It has a smell, like a chemical smell,” Debra Ciresi, a local, said.

State officials will identify new treatment technologies and potential locations with state-of-the-art treatment systems, while considering future needs and the presence of emerging contaminants, per Gov. Cuomo’s press release.

“If you pollute the water you should pay to clean up the water. This should not be something where the taxpayers and the landowners are left holding the bag,”Esposito said. “The federal government and the Navy set aside 500 million dollars per year to help clean up any toxic legacies that they left behind in the past, this should be included in that.”

The rapid response team will look at engineering solutions to contain and clean up the plume for a better outcome.

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