The former headquarters for what is now Northrop Grumman in...

The former headquarters for what is now Northrop Grumman in Bethpage on June 13, 2017. Credit: Newsday / Emily C. Dooley

The Town Board of Oyster Bay last week granted access for Northrop Grumman Systems Corp. to take soil samples and run geotechnical tests at the Bethpage Community Park ballfields, which have been closed for 15 years over soil and groundwater contamination stemming from former manufacturing operations run by the defense contractor and U.S. Navy.

The ballfields are part of a state Superfund cleanup plan overseen by the state Department of Environmental Conservation to remediate soil contamination and a groundwater plume of volatile organic chemicals emanating from the park on Stewart Avenue.

The agreement allows Northrop Grumman to access the property and requires that gamma probes be used to screen for radium at the ballfield. It also requires testing results to be shared with the town.

“We’re pushing for it to begin as quickly as possible, as soon as they can get the equipment on site,” Town Supervisor Joseph Saladino said.

Also at its Aug. 15 meeting, the town board approved spending up to $35,000 to retain Locks Law Firm of Manhattan and Sims Law Firm of Davenport, Iowa, to investigate if the town can use nuisance laws to file littering charges against entities that pollute town properties. Saladino said the intent is to see if fines and fees can be levied against the Navy and Northrop Grumman.

From the 1930s to 1990s, the Navy and what is now Northrop Grumman researched, tested and manufactured airplanes and space exploration vehicles on more than 600 acres in Bethpage. Groundwater contamination was first discovered in the 1940s. The site was added to the state Superfund list in 1983 and is subject to several cleanup plans to remove soil contamination and remediate groundwater plumes. 

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