Public Comment Period Announced for State of the Art Full Containment Alternative
State DOH Releases Health Consultation - Concludes Public Water Supplies Impacted by Plume Not a Current Health Risk, Contamination Must be Addressed to Prevent Future Impacts
Critical Action to Protect Long Island's Drinking Water
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced the release of a landmark engineering and groundwater modeling investigation, as well as the beginning of a public comment period on a proposed Amended Record of Decision 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. The Department of Environmental Conservation's new comprehensive investigation of the nearly four-mile long and two-mile wide underground plume confirms that construction, long-term operation and maintenance of an estimated $585 million full containment and treatment system is feasible and can effectively halt the further spread of contaminants.
"New York will not stand idly by as polluters threaten the health and safety of Long Island's residents and communities," Governor Cuomo said. "With the release of this groundbreaking plan to contain and treat the Navy/Grumman plume, we are taking action on a comprehensive system to safeguard communities and ensure that Long Island's drinking water and environment are protected for generations to come."
New Report and Proposed Amended Record of Decision Released for Public Comment
The release of the Department of Environmental Conservation's (DEC) new analysis and the proposed Amended Record of Decision for public comment is the next step in the State Superfund process to select and deploy a comprehensive plan to contain and clean up the plume and hold the responsible parties - the U.S. Navy and Northrop Grumman - accountable for its implementation. DEC's preferred alternative includes the construction of 24 groundwater extraction wells, five treatment plants, four recharge basins, and approximately 24 miles of conveyance piping.
At the close of the public comment period, the State will issue an Amended Record of Decision formally selecting the remedy. Immediately after the cleanup plan is selected, DEC, in consultation with the State Department of Health, will demand that the Navy and Grumman implement the selected plan. In addition, DEC will soon be releasing a Natural Resource Damages report under the federal Superfund law that determines that groundwater was substantially impacted and needs to be restored.
The State's study and the proposed Amended Record of Decision are available for review on the DEC website. DEC is accepting comments on the proposed plan from May 23 through July 7. Comments on the plan can be sent to Jason Pelton, DEC Project Manager, at [email protected]. A public meeting to present the detailed plan has been scheduled for June 10, 2019 at the Bethpage High School, 10 Cherry Avenue, in Bethpage, NY. An informal availability session is scheduled from 5:00 - 7:00 pm, followed by a formal presentation at 7:00pm.
DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos said, "When New York's natural resources and public health are at risk, we act. DEC has exhaustively investigated the plume and now know that containment and treatment are possible. Through Governor Cuomo's ongoing leadership, today's action is a major step forward in safeguarding clean water for Long Island and holding polluters accountable."
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, unregulated contaminant. The investigation included drilling exploratory wells to a depth of 1,000 feet 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.
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. Three of the four wells have been installed and drilling continues. 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.
Health Consultation Report Released
In addition, the State Department of Health and the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry today released a health consultation developed in response to a request from a Long Island resident about groundwater contamination associated with the Navy/Grumman plume. The health consultation confirmed that no residents are drinking water contaminated with TCE or related chlorinated solvents-contaminated water as all these treatment systems are working. However, the DOH has reiterated that the contamination must be addressed to prevent the risk for spread and future impacts to other supplies not currently affected. TCE causes a variety of health effects including toxicity to the immune system and reproduction (birth defects). The elevated chlorinated solvent levels stemming from the plume were recognized decades ago, necessitating the installation of treatment of the water supply to prevent these health risks. The recent detection of 1,4-dioxane in groundwater associated with this plume raises additional concerns for drinking water quality, public health, and contaminant spread to additional supplies, and illustrates the importance of the new Amended cleanup plan.
U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer said, "For far too long the Bethpage Plume has steadily crept along threatening to contaminate drinking water supplies in community after community while the Navy and Northrup-Grumman have done little to respond to local water districts pleas for further action. That's why I brought the Navy Secretary to Long Island to meet face-to-face with water suppliers who made the case for an aggressive treatment plan to halt the spread of the plume. I am pleased that Governor Cuomo and the NYS DEC have chosen to adopt an aggressive plan which seeks to contain the plume and I will fight tooth and nail in Washington D.C. to make sure that these cleanup costs don't fall to local taxpayers who bear no responsibility for this toxic mess but live under constant threat of its unchecked spread."
Congressman Tom Suozzi said, "I applaud Governor Cuomo and the NYSDEC for taking swift action to contain and help clean up this plume. For 40 years we have known about this plume and the people of this community have suffered while the cleanup simply takes too long. I will continue to work with my friends in the Bethpage Water District to push all of the responsible parties and stakeholders to a cleanup resolution that gives these residents what they deserve. Clean drinking water."
Senator Todd Kaminsky, Chair of the Senate Environmental Conservation Committee, said, "Protecting Long Island's water from the Bethpage Plume is vital. I am pleased to work with Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and the State Department of Environmental Conservation to finally mitigate the effects of this toxic plume because Long Islanders deserve clean air, water and soil, and I will continue to fight to ensure just that."
Assemblyman Steve Englebright, Chair of the Assembly Environmental Conservation Committee, said, "Governor Cuomo and the DEC have stepped forward with decisive action by developing a plan informed by scientific investigation. Now that we have the data to fully understand the dynamics of the plume's movement and how to clean it up, the process of remediation can at last move forward."
Senator John Brooks said, "All of us who have spent the last several years concerned about the environmental impact of the Bethpage plume can now rest a little easier knowing that progress is happening. The release of this report is an important step forward in resolving this issue that has affected so many Long islanders and is in need of an ultimate solution. I applaud the leadership that NY State has demonstrated on this issue, especially in light of the Federal government's complete failure to act."
Senator Jim Gaughran said, "Cleaning up the contamination from the Grumman Plume is a major environmental priority for our region and I thank Governor Cuomo for his leadership in ensuring this cleanup is funded and prioritized. We must hold corporate polluters responsible for the contamination they have caused and that's why I have a bill to close loopholes in State law that allow polluters to evade responsibility. I look forward to continuing to work with Governor Cuomo to ensure our greatest resource — our environment — is protected for generations to come."
Senator Kevin Thomas said, "Our communities depend on clean, quality drinking water. I commend Governor Cuomo and the DEC for working to develop a solution to contain the U.S. Navy and Northrop Grumman plume, which poses an ongoing threat to our public wells. This is a top-priority issue affecting over 250,000 Nassau County residents. I will continue working with the Governor to ensure the long-term health of our public drinking water and the safety of our communities in Nassau County."
Assembly Member Mike LiPetri said, "I am very pleased to see that we are moving forward with cleanup and prevention of water contamination caused by the Grumman-Navy Plume. Residents deserve peace of mind when it comes to clean and reliable drinking water and I am eager to work with the Governor to see that the implementation and execution of this project is done quickly and effectively."
Assembly Member David G. McDonough said, "I commend the Governor and the NYS DEC for initiating the release of the engineering and groundwater modeling investigation and their action to move forward to fully contain and treat the Grumman plume in order to protect our precious drinking water. I look forward to working with the Governor's Office and NYSDEC to see that the Grumman Navy plume is remediated as quick as possible."
Assembly Member Michael Montesano said, "As we continue to learn more and more about the environmental dangers posed to all species and our planet, we must take every possible action to preserve and protect Earth's most precious resources. This plume has threatened the health and wellbeing of Long Island residents for far too long and I am grateful to see Governor Cuomo and the State Department of Environmental Conservation taking concrete steps to contain and treat this environmental hazard once and for all."
Nassau County Executive Laura Curran said, "I applaud Governor Cuomo for once again making Nassau County a priority. The investment of hundreds of millions of dollars to contain and treat the Bethpage Plume is very much needed and will protect those impacted communities for generations to come."
Oyster Bay Town Supervisor Joseph Saladino said, "This study is a critical step in achieving the long-overdue goal of containing and treating the Grumman-Navy plume. I thank Governor Cuomo and the DEC for their commitment to addressing this environmental hazard. Together with local water districts, we will do everything possible to protect residents, water quality and our fragile ecological resources."
Governor Cuomo has made protecting New York's drinking water a top priority, investing $2.5 billion in the 2017 Clean Water Infrastructure Act, as well as an additional $500 million in funding for clean water and a 10-year $1 billion reauthorization of the State Superfund program. 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 to repair and fortify the Bay Park wastewater treatment plant, $354 million to divert 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.