Groundwater pollution from a toxic plume in the Bethpage area...

Groundwater pollution from a toxic plume in the Bethpage area has affected 11 public water supply wells and alarmed residents. Credit: Newsday / Thomas A. Ferrara

Rep. Thomas Suozzi (D-Glen Cove) requested Tuesday that the Navy and Northrop Grumman negotiate payments to the state for Bethpage groundwater pollution cleanup and allow the state to take the lead.

“The DEC’s proposal for full containment provides a unique opportunity for one entity to oversee and coordinate efforts to fully remediate the contamination,” Suozzi wrote in letters sent Tuesday. “I believe this approach will speed up the cleanup and reduce the overall cost” for both Northrop and the Navy.

 In another letter to the Department of Environmental Conservation, Suozzi wrote the he had asked the Navy and Northrop Grumman to "negotiate with the DEC and to determine a 'payout' each will make to the DEC to handle the management and cleanup of the plume that has plagued this community for far too long." 

The state Department of Environmental Conservation last month released a $585 million proposed plan to contain and treat the plume of groundwater pollution, which has been spreading at the rate of a foot per day for decades. It has affected public water wells in Bethpage and is spreading to communities south. State documents estimated that it would take five years to fully design and implement the proposed plan, and 110 years to remove the contamination from the groundwater at the former Navy and Northrop Grumman facilities.

In the letter to Northrop Grumman, Suozzi said “no one wants to waste more funds on lawyers, engineers, additional studies and further bureaucratic delays … Placing the cleanup in the hands of one accountable party [I suggest the DEC] would be most efficient.”

At a public hearing Monday night, residents expressed hope the plan would finally lead to the cleanup, but frustration because of years of delays.

Northrop Grumman spokesman Vic Beck said the company continues to work with federal, state and local authorities and elected officials and “we remain committed to pursuing scientifically sound, targeted and effective remedial approaches that are protective of human health and minimize community disruption.”

The Navy didn’t respond to requests for comment. But both the Navy and Northrop Grumman have said they plan to submit public comments before the July 7 deadline.

Suozzi said he raised the idea most recently with the Navy, Northrop Grumman and others at a May 29 meeting in Oyster Bay.

“I’ve sensed a general open-mindedness to the idea," Suozzi said in an interview. "Now it’ll come down to negotiations about the dollar amount, I think.”

A DEC spokeswoman said the department “is currently focused on the process of receiving comments on the new, amended Record of Decision and, once the preferred alternative is selected, will approach the responsible parties for implementation and consider all options to ensure they implement the selected remedy.”

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