New Analysis Shows It Will Be Possible to Fully Contain and Treat the Four-Mile-Long, Two-Mile-Wide Plume
New York Demands Polluters Pay for Construction and Operation of the Containment and Treatment System
Critical Action to Protect Long Island's Drinking Water
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today unveiled the 14th proposal of the 2018 State of the State: New York is fast tracking construction of a new, state-of-the-art well system to fully contain and treat the plume of contamination caused by industrial waste from the U.S. Navy and Northrop Grumman Bethpage manufacturing facilities in Oyster Bay, Nassau County. New analysis and modeling shows that it is possible to fully contain and treat the plume, which is now stretches nearly four miles long and two miles wide in the underground aquifer. Governor Cuomo is directing 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 to plume to protect Long Island communities.
"Protecting the health and safety of New Yorkers is our top priority, and we will not wait for polluters to play the blame game with the drinking water of millions of Long Islanders," Governor Cuomo said. "We are taking action on a comprehensive system to contain the plume and protect communities, and we will continue to hold Northrop Grumman and the U.S. Navy accountable for the cleanup of their toxic contamination legacy."
At the Governor's direction, in February 2017, DEC launched an engineering investigation to assess expedited cleanup options, including full containment of the plume, in order to ensure the contamination does not threaten additional drinking water wells. The investigation included drilling exploratory wells to a depth of 1,000 feet and synthesizing more than 180,000 groundwater sample data points spanning decades. In addition, the analysis developed state-of-the-art 3D computer model capable of simulating groundwater flow, which—for the first time ever—allowed DEC to assess various groundwater pumping and discharge scenarios. DEC's investigation indicates that full containment and treatment is feasible.
DEC's investigation better documents the size, trajectory, and composition of the plume, which is 1.8 miles wide, 3.7 miles long, and up to 800 feet deep. The plume contains 24 contaminants, including TCE, which is the primary contaminant of concern, and 1,4-dioxane, which is an emerging, unregulated contaminant.
The system will include at least 14 wells strategically located around the perimeter of the plume to prevent it from migrating further south and impacting additional communities. In addition, at least four wells will be located within the plume to target hot spots of contamination. The well system will extract and treat the water using carbon filtration, air stripping technology, and ultraviolet light, as well as advanced oxidation to treat the emerging contaminant 1,4-dioxane.
To jump-start the remediation effort, the State will fast-track well construction in 2018 and will use all legal tools at its disposal to hold the U.S. Navy and Northrop Grumman accountable and require them to pay for construction and operation costs. The full containment and treatment system is estimated to cost at least $150 million to construct.
"Protecting the health and safety of New Yorkers is our top priority, and we will not wait for polluters to play the blame game with the drinking water of millions of Long Islanders."
Department of Environmental Commissioner Basil Seggos said, "When New York's natural resources and public health are at risk, our State doesn't wait to act. DEC has studied the plume and we know how to move forward with comprehensively containing the Navy Grumman toxic legacy and protecting water quality. Through Governor Cuomo's ongoing leadership, today's action is the latest step in safeguarding clean water for generations of Long Islanders and in holding Northrop Grumman and the Navy accountable for their legacy of contamination."
Governor Cuomo has made protecting New York's drinking water a top priority, investing $2.5 billion in last year's Clean Water Infrastructure Act and a 10-year $1 billion reauthorization of the State Superfund program. Because of Long Island's dependence 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.
Chair of the Assembly Standing Committee on Environmental Conservation, Assemblymember Steve Englebright said, "There is no more pressing problem on Long Island than existing and emerging threats to our drinking water sources. Governor Cuomo and his talented team of experienced professionals have been working tirelessly to advance proactive solutions to contain the Grumman plume and eliminate the threat its contamination poses to this community. Today's announcement is just the latest example of the Governor's commitment to protecting the drinking water millions of Long Islanders depend upon."
Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano said, "Governor Cuomo's commitment to contain and clean up the contaminated Grumman Navy Plume has been uncompromising and unrelenting. The Governor has made clear that New York State will pursue all available actions to protect the health and safety of Long Islanders. New York State will hold the responsible parties fully accountable for restoring the communities impacted by their pollution, and I thank the Governor for his leadership."
Nassau County Executive-Elect Laura Curran said, "I commend Governor Cuomo for his leadership in accelerating remediation of the Grumman Navy plume. From the beginning, the Governor's number one priority has been to protect the health and safety of Long Islanders by demanding immediate actions to contain and remove the contamination lurking deep beneath Long Island. We're grateful for the Governor's strong support holding the responsible parties fully accountable for nothing less than a comprehensive and expedited cleanup."
Oyster Bay Town Supervisor Joseph Saladino said, "On behalf of all Long Islanders, I thank Governor Cuomo for his commitment to investing $150 million in remediation infrastructure to protect our groundwater from the Grumman-Navy plume. This new, aggressive approach will utilize the latest technology to tackle contaminants and treat the plume. These remediation plans build on the Governor's record of environmental leadership and brings Long Island one step closer to finally removing this toxic contamination from our communities."
Adrienne Esposito, Executive Director of Citizens Campaign for the Environment said, "No community should have to live in fear of what's in the water below their homes, and Governor Cuomo is once again stepping up to hold polluters accountable for moving more quickly to protect our water supply. I applaud the Governor for his strong actions today to advance containment of the Navy/Grumman plume and safeguard our precious water resources."