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Lawmakers: Contain Bethpage groundwater plume

U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer, second from left,

U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer, second from left, offers a celebratory water toast after announcing that the U.S. Navy has offered a settlement to reimburse the Bethpage Water District for all the money it has spent on equipment to treat drinking water. (March 28, 2013) (Credit: Newsday/Audrey C. Tiernan)

A trio of politicians representing New York has asked the secretary of the Navy to speed up plans to contain a groundwater plume in Bethpage, where officials recently closed one water supply well after elevated levels of radium were discovered.

The letter, dated Thursday, from Reps. Steve Israel (D-Huntington) and Peter King (R-Seaford), plus Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) asks Navy Secretary Ray Mabus to commit funds and to authorize rapid implementation of a Superfund cleanup plan issued by the state Department of Environmental Conservation in March.

Mabus’ office had not yet received the letter Thursday and could not comment, said Capt. Pamela Kunze in the secretary’s public affairs office.

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Starting in 1942, the Navy and Grumman Aircraft Engineering Corp. (now Northrop Grumman) operated research, testing, design, fabrication and assembly plants in Bethpage. Manufacturing stopped in 1998 and two plumes have been traced back to the operations.

The DEC did not respond to a request for comment.

When the state issued its final order March 29 to clean up a plume coming from Bethpage Community Park, officials said it would likely take several months to negotiate with the Navy, Northrop Grumman and Town of Oyster Bay about the division of work and funding.

Last month, Bethpage Water District officials shut down one well after discovering radium. The Navy and Northrop Grumman have agreed to let the district test monitoring wells to see whether they can track the source of the radioactive element.

“The detection of radium further emphasizes the underlying need to delineate and contain the plume, one and for all,” King, Israel and Schumer wrote to Mabus.

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