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East Hampton Airport property added to Superfund list

Chemicals were found at the East Hampton Airport.

Chemicals were found at the East Hampton Airport. Photo Credit: John Roca

New York State has added a portion of the East Hampton Airport to its Superfund registry, the second South Fork site to be added this year following detection of chemicals linked to firefighting foam.

The state Department of Environmental Conservation included 47 of the town-owned Wainscott property’s 570 acres to its Registry of Inactive Hazardous Waste Disposal Sites on May 23, based on detection of perfluorinated compounds, according to DEC and East Hampton Town officials. The chemicals were once used in firefighting foam and various household products.

The 47 acres encompass a fire training facility, acreage along Industrial Road and west of Daniels Hole Road, the terminal, fuel depot, the firefighting storage facility and the end of runway 34, the town said Wednesday in a news release.

The DEC is working with the town to enter a consent order to initiate a cleanup program, which includes a more detailed study, according to the state agency. The DEC will undertake the work if the town does not, according to an agency spokeswoman. Town officials declined to comment further.

DEC officials said the designation has no effect on the agency’s investigation of the nearby Wainscott Sand & Gravel site as a potential contamination source in the area.

The DEC in November released a “site characterization report” of the airport that found that historic use and storage of firefighting foam at the site had impacted groundwater with readings of perfluorooctane sulfonic acid (PFOS) as high as at 290 parts per trillion and perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) as high as 160.

The federal health advisory limit for drinking water is 70 parts per trillion, though a state panel in December recommended a limit of 10 parts per trillion for drinking water.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has linked exposure to PFOS and PFOA to testicular and kidney cancers, developmental effects to fetuses and breast-fed infants, liver tissue damage, and negative effects on the immune system and thyroid, among others.

The state most recently added the Hampton Bays fire station to the list in February for PFOS contamination. It added the Suffolk County fire academy in Yaphank in May 2017 and Gabreski Air National Guard Base in Westhampton Beach in September, because of the chemicals.

East Hampton Town is pursuing litigation against the 3M company, Chemguard Inc., DuPont de Nemours Inc. and other manufacturers of products containing perfluorinated compounds, which were phased out about 15 years ago. The town and Suffolk County Water Authority added 45,000 feet of water mains in Wainscott last year after the compounds were detected in more than 200 private wells. Public water, unlike private wells, is regularly tested and treated.

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