Roslyn Estates well contamination probed by DEC

The state Department of Environmental Conservation is launching The state Department of Environmental Conservation is launching an investigation to find the source of the refrigerant contaminating a drinking-water well in Roslyn Estates, pictured here on April 3, 2014. Photo Credit: Danielle Finkelstein

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The state Department of Environmental Conservation is launching an investigation to find the source of the refrigerant contaminating a drinking-water well in Roslyn Estates.

DEC Commissioner Joseph Martens said in a letter to state Assemb. Charles Lavine (D-Glen Cove) that the agency would "soon begin an investigation" into the source of the Freon 22 leak.

In the March 21 letter, Martens said the Nassau County Department of Health "suggested a possible source" of the chemical compound and that investigators would look into that.

Martens did not name the possible source, and the DEC did not respond to requests for comment Thursday.

The health department referred questions to Mike Martino, spokesman for the Nassau public works department.

"The DEC is going to need to determine the source," said Martino, who declined to comment further.

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Lavine wrote to the DEC on Feb. 14, asking the agency to investigate the contamination.

"Our grave concern over Freon being discovered in our wells is fully justified because Freon is not an element that occurs naturally," Lavine said Thursday. He said he didn't know when the state investigation would start.

Increasing levels of Freon caused the Roslyn Water District to shut down the well on Diana's Trail in November. A second well site is also closed due to a different contamination, leaving the district with six in operation.

"The fact that the DEC is willing to begin this, that's great," said Michael Kosinski, chairman of the district's board of commissioners.

Adam Krupp, who lives adjacent to the shut well, said he hopes the state can pinpoint the pollution source, which could help secure cleanup funding.

"Ultimately, if we can find out what the source is, there's a way to point to getting someone else to fund the process," he said.

The district sought $20.9 million in bonds from the Town of North Hempstead for several projects, including $4 million to build a facility known as an air stripper to treat the contamination at the well.

The town granted the request in February, but urged the district to consider locating the air stripper in adjacent Christopher Morley Park to appease nearby residents, who have expressed health and other concerns about the facility. It would force air through the water, removing the Freon and dispersing it into the air.

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District officials have been working on locating the air stripper in the county-owned park, about 400 feet from homes.

Attorney Peter Fishbein, who represents the district, said it will likely seek a use-and-occupancy permit from the county, which would allow the district to build the stripper in the park without owning the land. The district would later seek to buy the property with approval of the State Legislature.

The facility is expected to be in operation by summer 2015, officials said.

For this summer, the district has issued irrigation restrictions for its roughly 5,800 residential and commercial customers, anticipating that it won't be able to meet the peak season demand.

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