State Releases Findings of Remedial Options Report Outlining Potential Actions to Address the Contamination Plume
Today, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation will seek financial compensation for damages to groundwater resources related to contamination from the Northrop Grumman State Superfund Site in Bethpage. DEC issued a Notice of Intent letter to Northrop Grumman and the U.S. Navy, naming them as “potentially responsible parties.” The letter formalizes the state’s plan to perform a Natural Resources Damage Assessment to quantify the damages to groundwater resources and obtain funding from these entities to support critical ecosystem restoration projects.
“Protecting the health and safety of our residents is the top priority of our administration,” Governor Cuomo said. “By continuing to hold Northrop Grumman and the Navy accountable for their actions, we are ensuring that the responsible parties clean up the groundwater contamination, while securing compensation to revitalize local ecosystems on Long Island.”
DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos said, "When New York State’s natural resources are damaged, the public should be compensated and those funds should be put back into the impacted communities. Through Governor Cuomo’s ongoing leadership, today’s action is the latest step in holding Northrop Grumman and the Navy accountable for the groundwater contamination they have caused.”
Once the NRD Assessment process is complete, DEC will urge Northrop Grumman and the U.S. Navy to settle their NRD liability and provide funding for projects to restore and protect groundwater on Long Island. If the parties fail to cooperate, DEC will pursue all available legal remedies. Under Governor Cuomo, DEC has recovered tens of millions of dollars in NRD claims, including settlements to address groundwater contamination in Livingston County and to restore sport fishing on Lake Ontario.
The state’s pursuit of an NRD settlement is in addition to the ongoing site remediation being conducted by Northrop Grumman and the U.S. Navy under Consent Order with New York State. DEC is overseeing and expediting this remedial work through the State Superfund program.
Groundwater contamination, which stretches southward from the former manufacturing sites and covers over one mile, is currently treated by multiple wellhead treatment systems. Long Island is a sole source aquifer that provides drinking water to millions of people; it must be protected from contamination and managed effectively to reduce saltwater infiltration and other threats related to its unique geology.
Senator Kemp Hannon said, “I am pleased that after fighting hard to pass legislation and secure funding to make it happen, the Department has taken a hard look at the Grumman site and options to contain and remediate the pollution. I encourage everyone to review this much awaited report and take advantage of the public comment period. Cleaning up the groundwater contamination is essential and long overdue as is aggressively pursuing financial compensation for the damages to our water.”
Assemblyman Joseph Saladino said, “The safest option to protect Long Island’s drinking water is to fully contain the Grumman-Navy Plume and to remediate it in its entirety without delay. I am proud to have to have sponsored, along with Senator Kemp Hannon the law which enabled the progress we see today. Our Governor and the State of New York recognize the damage that has taken place in our aquifer, and we must work to contain these contaminants. I am in total support of the DEC’s efforts to force Grumman and the U.S. Navy to pay for this restoration and protect our precious drinking water without any more delay and without expense to the taxpayer.”
Remedial Options Report Released
In addition to initiating the Natural Resource Damage action, DEC also released draft findings of the Remedial Options Report for the Grumman Aerospace-Bethpage Facility, recently completed by independent engineering consultant HDR, Inc. The Report assesses full hydraulic containment of groundwater contamination emanating from the former Northrop Grumman and U.S. Navy manufacturing facilities. The HDR Report, which was required by legislation, sponsored by Senator Kemp Hannon and Assemblymember Joseph Saldino, enacted in 2014 and paid for with $150,000 in funding provided by the State Senate, presents three major options for containment of the Grumman plume. The report includes estimates of the cost, scope, and timetable of each project. The report is available here.
DEC will initiate a public review and comment process to solicit public input on the Report. Formal notice of the public process will be placed in the Environmental News Bulletin next week, and will outline how to access to the full Report and submit public comments. DEC will consider all public input received and assess all options in accordance with Federal and State Superfund laws.
DEC will continue to ensure that Northrop Grumman and the U.S. Navy expeditiously remediate the site and will use all existing legal authority to recover public funds expended. The actions announced today build on the state’s recent progress to ensure these responsible parties accelerate work plans associated with the investigation and cleanup of the area. In March, DEC secured commitment from Northrop Grumman to start remediation of the Operating Unit 3 groundwater contamination hotspot in Bethpage before the end of 2016. The company recently began work to install remedial wells at this location. The state will continue to aggressively monitor Northrop Grumman's remediation activities and hold them accountable for the clean-up of this groundwater contamination plume on this expedited timeline.
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