Bill Sullivan, foreground, a resident of Bay Shore, reacts to...

Bill Sullivan, foreground, a resident of Bay Shore, reacts to another resident's concerns during a meeting at Bay Shore High School. (April 26, 2011) Credit: Danielle Finkelstein

State officials from Albany joined National Grid representatives at a Bay Shore public meeting to explain the latest progress on the cleanup of toxic plumes from a former gas plant, but their message didn't quell some residents' concerns.

"We're on a glide path to completion here," Gardiner Cross of the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation told about 70 residents at a meeting Tuesday night at Bay Shore High School.

About 14 representatives were on hand from National Grid, which now owns the site and is conducting the cleanup with oversight from the DEC and the state Health Department. Cross said contamination remains from coal tar and fuel originating from the former Long Island Lighting Co. plant at some depths. None affects drinking water.

The latest data showed treatment with oxygen injection had helped naturally occurring bacteria dissolve shallow contamination at a steady rate through 2009 and 2010. He said "dramatic progress" had been made and was expected to continue.

Some residents challenged the presentation. Questions were asked about a group of chemical compounds called oxy-PAHs that scientists from the United States Geological Survey have found present in low levels in groundwater near the site.

The Suffolk County health department is considering more research on the compounds because like other chemicals found at contaminated coal tar sites, some are carcinogenic and can alter DNA. There are also concerns the oxygen injection treatment could be helping produce them.

Cross and Steve Karpinski of the state health department called that research "very preliminary" and said there was no evidence treatment systems were producing the compounds.

"I worry about my health, my children's health," said one resident, who asked not to be named but has lived in the area more than 20 years. "I know of seven or eight miscarriages in two [local] families . . . shouldn't we have some protection?"

Neither the state health department nor the DEC had been able to find evidence of vapors from contaminants traveling up through soil into residents' homes. "We weren't sure at first, but the overall data now is very conclusive," Cross told residents.

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