Critical Action to Protect Long Island's Drinking Water Following DEC Investigation Earlier this Year
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced the release of the final selected remedy to fully contain and treat the plume of contamination caused by industrial waste from U.S. Navy and Northrop Grumman manufacturing facilities in Oyster Bay, Nassau County. In 2019, the Department of Environmental Conservation's comprehensive investigation of the nearly four-mile long and two-mile wide underground plume confirmed that construction, long-term operation and maintenance of an estimated $585 million full plume containment and treatment system is feasible and can effectively halt the further spread of contaminants.
"My top priority is protecting the health of New Yorkers, and we'll never wait for polluters to clean up their mess when it's most convenient for them," Governor Cuomo said. "The people of Bethpage deserve immediate action to treat the severe contamination caused by this plume and to stop it from spreading. We're moving forward with an aggressive plan engineered to achieve the highest cleanup standards possible, and if necessary we'll go to court to force the polluters to pay for it."
The Department of Environmental Conservation's analysis and proposed Amended Record of Decision was released for public comment in May 2019. DEC received more than 200 comments on the plan during the public comment period. The final remedy, developed in consultation with the State Department of Health, and after a rigorous review of the comments received, is a comprehensive plan to contain and clean up the plume and hold the responsible parties — U.S. Navy and Northrop Grumman — accountable for its implementation. DEC's chosen alternative includes the construction of 24 groundwater extraction wells, five treatment plants, four recharge basins and approximately 24 miles of conveyance piping. The estimated cost to construct and operate the system is $585 million.
DEC is demanding that Navy and Grumman implement the selected plan as soon as possible and will use all legal and regulatory authority to compel them to act. If the responsible parties decline to act, DEC will begin construction of the new system using State resources.
As part of the Superfund process, the State's expanded engineering investigation and a proposed Amended Record of Decision were made available for review on the DEC website. DEC accepted comments on the proposed plan from May 23 through July 8. A public meeting to present the detailed plan was held on June 10 at the Bethpage High School, in Bethpage, NY.
The final remedy documents, including a description of the new remedy and a summary of and a response to all public comments received, can be found on the DEC's webpage.
Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Basil Seggos said, "This final plan to effectively contain and treat the Navy Grumman plume is the justice Long Islanders deserve. DEC's extensive investigation into an effective cleanup plan for the Grumman Plume is based on sound science and subject to total transparency to ensure this community has all the facts and understands what must be done to protect their drinking water. The public has seen our plan and agree it's time to move forward."
In 2017, at the Governor's direction, DEC launched the $6 million engineering investigation to assess expedited cleanup options and containment of the plume, to ensure contamination does not threaten additional drinking water wells. The plume contains 24 contaminants, including TCE, which is the primary contaminant of concern, and 1,4-dioxane, an emerging contaminant. The investigation included exploratory drilling to depths approaching 1,000 feet, installation of monitoring wells and synthesizing more than 200,000 groundwater analytical records spanning decades. In addition, working with the U.S. Geological Survey, the analysis developed a state-of-the-art 3D computer model containing millions of cells capable of simulating groundwater flow, which — for the first time ever — allowed DEC to assess various groundwater pumping and discharge scenarios to address the Navy Grumman groundwater plume.
In his 2018 State of the State Address, the Governor also announced that New York was undertaking the drilling of four extraction wells to jump-start the remediation. Four wells have been installed and plans for further drilling are underway. In addition, Governor Cuomo directed DEC to use every legal tool at its disposal to hold the polluters accountable for constructing and operating the system, which will fully contain and treat the plume to protect Long Island communities.
U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer said, "For many years I have pushed the polluters, Navy-Grumman, to implement a more aggressive and comprehensive remediation of the plume, rather than treating drinking water sources after they are contaminated — and sticking local water suppliers with the bill. New York State DEC's plan is a strong step in the right direction and the proactive approach to remediation we need. Navy-Grumman should immediately engage New York to implement a final cleanup and treatment plan utilizing the best available technology and data — and fully pay for the toxic mess they created."
U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand said, "Access to clean water is a right, and the Navy Grumman groundwater plume must be fully contained to protect safe drinking water for people living on Long Island. New York State's announcement today is a positive step in reaching that urgent goal. Now that the amended record of decision has been issued, I urge the Navy and Northrop Grumman to come to the table and finalize an implementation plan without delay."
Congressman Tom Suozzi said, "The Governor and the DEC have done excellent work here. This has gone on for much too long. The Navy and Grumman should both write big checks and turn the cleanup over to the DEC and the water district and get this done once and for all. No more lawyers, engineers and endless delays, the people of Bethpage have suffered for long enough."
Senator Kevin Thomas said, "Containing and treating the groundwater contamination from the Grumman/Navy Plume is of critical importance to the safety of our residents and our way of life. I am grateful that we are moving forward in the process of resolving this top-priority issue, which has affected generations of Long Islanders. I look forward to working with the Governor's Office and NYS DEC to ensure the long-term health of our public drinking water and the safety of our communities in Nassau County."
Senator Todd Kaminsky, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Environmental Conservation, said, "This is an important step in ridding the ground water at the Navy/Grumman plume of emerging contaminants and protecting our residents from the damage caused from the Grumman site. The legislature is serious about doing all we can to expedite the filtering process and delivering safe drinking water to our communities."
Assembly Member Steve Englebright, Chairman of the Assembly Committee on Environmental Conservation said, "This science-based plan is a bold and necessary response to one of the most severe industrial era insults to the coastal New York environment. Encircling and treating this massive toxic plume is a courageous commitment to a sustainable future for Long Island. I applaud Governor Cuomo and the DEC for keeping their promise to protect the water resources of our region."
Assembly Member Michael Montesano said, "Today, thanks to pressure brought to bear by Governor Cuomo and the state Department of Environmental Conservation, this community can rest easy knowing that the Navy-Grumman plume will finally be addressed once and for all. For decades, the U.S. Navy and Northrup Grumman have been slow to take the aggressive actions needed to contain the plume. Now with the state's final plan and the latest science, the plume will be stopped and the polluters made to pay."
Assembly Member John K. Mikulin said, "As a lifelong Bethpage resident, I am encouraged that action is being taken to contain the Navy/Grumman plume. I applaud the State on their leadership and urge Navy and Grumman to come to the table to finalize a solution to this problem once and for all."
Nassau County Executive Laura Curran said, "I want to thank the New York State DEC for their diligent work in developing a solution to address the Bethpage groundwater plume. Eliminating the contaminant and protecting our current groundwater supplies is vital to ensuring the health and safety of our residents. I want to thank Governor Cuomo for his action and advocacy - we must ensure a lasting solution to preserve our precious water supply."
Oyster Bay Town Supervisor Joseph Saladino said, "I commend Governor Cuomo and the Department of Environmental Conservation for expediting plans for full remediation of the plume and for their commitment to holding the polluters financially responsible. As a State Assemblyman, I authored the landmark legislation to begin this cleanup process and, now, as Town Supervisor I'm working collaborative with the State and local water districts to keep this process moving forward to protect drinking water, cleanup our environment and protect the surrounding communities."
Governor Cuomo has made protecting New York's drinking water a top priority, investing $3 billion in clean water. Because Long Island relies on its sole source aquifer, the region has been a focus of the Governor's efforts, including more than $800 million in state and federal funds to repair and fortify the Bay Park wastewater treatment plant, in addition to diverting Bay Park sewage from the Western Bays to the Cedar Creek outfall, $10 million to restore shellfish once common to Long Island's waters in order to improve water quality, a $6 million Long Island Groundwater Study and directing a comprehensive groundwater impact investigation of all of Long Island's closed landfills.