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Bethpage Community Park ballfield contamination cleanup to start

Oyster Bay Town Supervisor Joseph Saladino stands in

Oyster Bay Town Supervisor Joseph Saladino stands in front of the ballfield at Bethpage Community Park which has been closed for many years due to contaminants, after a press conference where he announced its cleanup Wednesday. Credit: Linda Rosier

Oyster Bay Town officials announced plans Wednesday to clean up soil contamination near the Bethpage Community Park ballfield, which has been closed for more than 15 years.

The ballfield was built on land contaminated by old Northrop Grumman Corp. plants. The project to clear the former baseball field of pollutants is part of a larger state Superfund site cleanup and is expected to begin next month, said Martin Brand, state Department of Environmental Conservation deputy commissioner.  

“The remediation will soon be getting underway, so we can return the fields at Bethpage park to the residents of Bethpage with the assurance of safety for our community,” Town Supervisor Joseph Saladino said at a news conference near the ballfield Wednesday.

The cleanup of the 2.5 acres will be paid for by Northrop Grumman and overseen by DEC, Saladino said. Saladino did not say how much the work would cost, only that it would be in the millions of dollars.

Over the next few months, wells will be drilled to heat the soil and extract volatile organic compounds, Brand said. Starting next year, the soil will be excavated to clear the area of metals and polychlorinated biphenyls, a pollutant known as PCBs.

The aerospace company used the area as a legal dumping spot for paint, oils, chromium-tainted sludge, arsenic and solvents.  The land was subsequently transferred to the Town of Oyster Bay and became a park in the mid-1960s. In 1983, the site was added to the state’s Superfund cleanup program for hazardous waste sites.

The entire park was briefly closed in 2002 when elevated levels of PCBs were found in the soil. The ballfield is the site of the heaviest dumping, but most of the park has been reopened, including the area with the skate park, ice rink and swimming pool.

“This section of the park has been closed to the public for many years to create the highest level of caution and safety,” Saladino said of the ballfield. “This environmental headache will soon once again become a useful recreational facility for our children and families.”

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