The federal government on Monday said it’s seeking to recoup the costs of investigating and cleaning up groundwater contamination at a superfund site in Nassau County from two businesses that it alleged had discharged hazardous chemicals there decades ago.
The companies — IMC Eastern Corporation and Island Transportation Corporation — were among businesses that contributed to the groundwater contamination and polluted 11 public water supply wells in Hicksville, the Village of Westbury, and the Town of Hempstead, according to a civil complaint filed against the companies on Monday in federal court by the office of Richard P. Donoghue, the United States Attorney in Brooklyn.
“Today’s filing serves as a warning to those who pollute our environment but refuse to take financial responsibility for their actions,” Donoghue said in a news release.
The complaint did not specify the amount of money the government is seeking to recover from IMC, formerly known as IMC Magnetics Corp., and Island Transportation, and a spokesman for Donoghue declined to specify the amount.
Officials at Island Transportation, based in West Babylon, and IMC, based in Nassau County, with its principal offices in Chatsworth, California, did not return calls for comment.
New Cassel/Hicksville Groundwater Contamination Superfund site, about 6.5 square miles large, includes residential, commercial and industrial areas within Nassau’s three towns. The site is part of a 170-acre industrial and commercial complex.
IMC, which operated at 570 Main St., in Westbury, from 1953 to 1992, manufactured and sold motors and air blowers, according to the complaint. Island Transportation, which operated at 299 Main St., also in Westbury, from at least 1971 to 1979, washed, repaired and refueled its trucks with gasoline at the facility.
Federal prosecutors in Brooklyn alleged that the companies, as part of their business operations, used toxic chemicals that included trichloroethylene, a common industrial degreaser used by machine shops and dry cleaner, and tetrachloroethylene, commonly used as an industrial solvent.
Trichloroethylene is a possible carcinogen and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency classified tetrachloroethylene as a likely human carcinogen. Long-term exposure to tetrachloroethylene from drinking water or other sources can cause neurological damage and other health problems, the EPA said.
These and other toxic chemicals, federal prosecutors said, had entered groundwater off the sites operated by IMC and Island Transportation, and traveled south, impacting Long Island’s source of drinking water.
The 11 public water wells — six in Hicksville, four in Hempstead, and one in the Village of Westbury — pump water from a system of aquifers beneath the surface.
"The Superfund program is intended to make sure that those who contributed to contamination help pay for its cleanup," said EPA regional administrator Peter D. Lopez.