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$585 million Bethpage plume plan gets hearing Monday

The state will hold a public hearing on

The state will hold a public hearing on its $585 million plan to contain and treat groundwater pollution in Bethpage. Photo Credit: Newsday / Thomas A. Ferrara

The public will be able to weigh in Monday on the state's $585 million plan to contain and treat groundwater pollution spreading from the former Northrop Grumman and U.S. Navy facilities in Bethpage.

The hearing, hosted by the state Department of Environmental Conservation, will be held at Bethpage High School's auditorium. The public is invited to attend a 5 p.m. session in which officials will be available, and the hearing will start at 7 p.m.

Officials will present a summary of the proposal, the first that aims to halt what is considered Long Island's largest groundwater pollution source. Officials also will present a model of the plume from the U.S. Geological Survey, according to DEC documents.

The contamination has affected 11 public water supply wells and threatens another 16. 

The state plan calls for drilling 24 wells to pump 17.5 million gallons of water per day to five treatment plants. The treated water then would be released to the aquifer through four basins and irrigation at Bethpage State Park. Some water also would go into Massapequa Creek.

It's expected to take five years to design and implement the DEC plan, and it could take 110 years to fully remove the contaminants from groundwater, according to state documents.

Town of Oyster Bay Supervisor Joseph Saladino, in prepared remarks to be submitted Monday, praised the plan, but said, "Five years to complete the design and construction phase is entirely too long."

Saladino said engineers and water consultants believe the plan can be built in 2½ years, "with a full-court press."

The plan the state favors was detailed in a report released last month. The plan calls for wells to be located inside the plume to "aggressively" remove areas with the highest contamination concentrations. A series of wells around the edges would prevent the plume from spreading.

The state DEC can modify the plan or select alternative proposals based on new information or public comments.

Alternative proposals could cost from $332 million to $748 million. The DEC said its recommended plan is the "most cost-effective" because it includes extraction of groundwater from the central portion of the plume, combined with hydraulic containment of the entire plume.

DEC officials say they expect Northrop Grumman and the Navy would oppose their plan, given their previous statements that containment of the plume isn't feasible.

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo and other state officials have said that if the Navy and Grumman balk at the cleanup proposal, the state would proceed with the project and sue them later to recover the costs.

On Friday, Northrop Grumman and U.S. Navy spokesmen said they were reviewing the DEC proposal.

"We continue to work closely with the U.S. Navy, NYSDEC and other federal, state and local regulatory authorities to address environmental conditions in Bethpage and we remain committed to pursuing scientifically-sound, targeted and effective remedial approaches that are protective of human health and minimize community disruption,” Northrop Grumman spokesman Vic Beck said in a statement.

The plume contains 24 contaminants, including TCE, a human carcinogen that according to the Environmental Protection Agency is toxic to the immune system and reproduction, and the emerging contaminant 1,4-dioxane, a likely carcinogen, according to the EPA, that water providers are struggling to treat.

The state's study found the plume has spread 4.3 miles south toward the Southern State Parkway, was 2.1 miles wide at its widest point and up to 900 feet deep. It is moving at the rate of about a foot-per-day.

After the presentation Monday, a question-and-answer period will be held, during which the public can submit verbal or written comments.

U.S. NAVY-GRUMMAN GROUNDWATER PLUME

Public meeting and availability session:

  • Monday, June 10
  • Bethpage High School
  • 10 Cherry Ave., Bethpage, NY 11714
  • Availability session begins at 5 p.m.
  • Public meeting begins at 7 p.m.

Cleanup plan highlights:

  • Cost: $585 million
  • 24 wells around edges of plume and in pollution hot spots.
  • Treated water discharged to recharge basins, used for irrigation, put into Massapequa Creek
  • Five years to design and implement
  • First plan that seeks to stop the pollution from spreading
  • Plume has affected 11 public water supply wells, threatens 16

Those who can't attend can submit written comments through July 7 to:

Jason Pelton

NYS Department of Environmental Conservation

Division of Environmental Remediation

625 Broadway Albany, NY 12233

or

jason.pelton@dec.ny.gov

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