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Manhasset-Lakeville Water District files lawsuit against 3 companies

The district files suit against Dow Chemical, Ferro Corp. and Vulcan Materials Co., alleging pollution in drinking water wells because of 1,4-dioxane.

The Manhasset-Lakeville Water District, in a lawsuit, seeks

The Manhasset-Lakeville Water District, in a lawsuit, seeks unspecified money to "protect the public and restore its damaged drinking water supply wells." Photo Credit: Howard Schnapp

A 10th Nassau County water provider has filed a lawsuit against chemical manufacturers for 1,4-dioxane pollution in drinking water wells.

Manhasset-Lakeville Water District filed suit Friday against Dow Chemical, Ferro Corp. and Vulcan Materials Co. over the emerging contaminant, which the state is expected to regulate later this year.

Nine other water districts filed lawsuits Dec. 20 against the companies. New York State is expected this year to set the first drinking water standard in the nation for the chemical, which had been used in industrial and commercial solvents and also is a byproduct in some common household products.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency lists 1,4-dioxane as a likely carcinogen.

The state has estimated the capital costs to treat the pollution at $318 million statewide to install treatments at 89 wells, plus $13 million a year in operating expenses to maintain the treatments.

Manhasset-Lakeville Water District seeks unspecified money to "protect the public and restore its damaged drinking water supply wells." The district serves 45,000 residents and businesses in Nassau County.

“We’re being proactive to try and protect our ratepayers,” said Paul Schrader, superintendent of the Manhasset-Lakeville Water District. 

The water provider said 1,4-dioxane has been detected "in varying amounts at varying times" in the district's 18 wells, which draw groundwater from the Long Island aquifer system.

Wells have tested positive for 1,4-dioxane at .1 to 2.4 parts per billion, Schrader said. A state drinking water panel recommended a maximum contaminant level of 1 part per billion for drinking water.

The lawsuits cite defective design of products that contain 1,4-dioxane, failure to warn about the dangers, negligence, public nuisance and trespass.

San Francisco-based law firm Sher Edling LLP is representing the Nassau water suppliers, as well as the Suffolk County Water Authority, which filed a similar lawsuit in 2017.

A Dow Chemical spokeswoman has called the previous lawsuits "without merit."

The man-made 1,4-dioxane is found in trace amounts throughout Long Island’s drinking water, and the highest detection in the nation was measured at a well in Hicksville. It was widely used in industrial settings in a solvent used to dissolve greasy and oily substances from machined metal products, and is likely a residue of Long Island’s industrial era of aviation, manufacturing and agricultural operations. Long Island sits above an aquifer that provides drinking water for the population.

In 2017, Hicksville Water District filed a lawsuit against owners of Philips Electronics, a light manufacturer, that operated from the 1950s until 1989.

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