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Glen Cove can reopen well closed for Freon 22 contamination

Nassau County has approved Glen Cove’s request to reopen one of two wells closed because of Freon 22 contamination.

“This is fantastic news,” Mayor Timothy Tenke said Wednesday.

Glen Cove officials made the request on March 16 after Freon 22 levels in the city’s Well 30 fell to nondetectable levels for more than two months. The county health department ordered Well 30 shut down in January after levels of the refrigerant reached as high as 6.9 parts per billion, above the county maximum of 4 parts per billion.

The other well, which is near Well 30, was closed in November and has had readings this month as high as 14.1 parts per billion.

Well 30 won’t reopen for about a month because the city must replace the granulated activated carbon system, which filters out other contaminants and bacteria but is not as effective with Freon 22, said city water operator John Ingram.

Some Freon 22 built up in that filtering system and could break loose and end up in the water, he said. The county is requiring multiple tests of water that goes through the new system before the well reopens.

After the well goes back on line, the city must test it weekly for Freon 22, and every day if Freon 22 levels rise to at least 2 parts per billion, Robin Putnam, director of the county Health Department’s Bureau of Environmental Protection, wrote in a Wednesday letter to Tenke. The city must shut the well down if Freon 22 levels rise to 4 parts per billion. The city also must continue to monitor Well 31, the other closed well, and Well 32, a third nearby well that has consistently had low or undetectable levels of Freon 22.

Putnam recommends that operation of Wells 30 and 32 “be minimized.” Health Department spokeswoman Mary Ellen Laurain said that is because pumping water affects the directional flow of groundwater, creating a risk that Freon 22 would migrate to both wells.

Tenke said the reopening of Well 30 makes it less likely the city will have to buy water from another supplier to tide the city over as usage spikes during warmer weather. The Locust Valley Water District has agreed to sell the city as much as 1 million gallons a day, as needed, but Tenke said “it gets expensive when you’re buying a million gallons at a clip.”

The City Council on Tuesday approved the purchase of a used air stripper to remove Freon 22 from Wells 30 and 31, but Ingram said the equipment won’t be on line until June or early July.

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