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Nine groundwater testing wells going into Veterans Way subdivision in Islandia

A worker pours water from monitoring wells installed

A worker pours water from monitoring wells installed at Veterans Way in Islandia on May 12, 2015. Credit: Ed Betz

The Suffolk County Department of Health Services is installing groundwater monitoring at an Islandia subdivision -- which houses veterans from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan -- to track whether contaminants from illegally dumped materials have seeped down into the water table.

Nine wells, including one off-site and up-gradient from water flow, started to be drilled by the department's Office of Water Resources on May 5, said Grace Kelly-McGovern, spokeswoman for the health department.

Crews were working at Veterans Way Tuesday. Lab analysis is expected to take six to eight weeks, then two to three weeks for data compilation and report preparation, Kelly-McGovern said.

One round of five samples of different depths from each well will be analyzed for nearly 300 compounds, including metals, pesticides and volatile organic compounds, by the county health department's Public and Environmental Health Laboratory. Subsequent testing will be determined based on initial results.

In December, 1,860 cubic yards of contaminated fill were removed from the berm. A second round of testing around that time yielded elevated levels of eight semivolatile compounds exceeding acceptable state Department of Environmental Conservation levels in front of two homes and in the backyard of a third, according to Nelson, Pope & Voorhis LLC, of Melville, which conducted the testing. The DEC has not determined how to deal with that issue, Creedon said.

Suffolk County Water Authority officials have repeatedly said since last June that drinking water at public wells near the four sites where contaminated fill has been found is safe for consumption, and they have vowed to increase testing to twice each year to ensure it stays that way.

Water authority officials have been concerned about three of the four dumping sites that are now the focus of criminal charges because of their proximity to public wells: Veterans Way close to the Nichols Road well; the sensitive wetlands area in Deer Park that feeds into the Harvest Lane well in West Islip; and the Fisher Avenue well near a private 1-acre lot on Islip Avenue in Central Islip. Roberto Clemente Park in Brentwood, where an estimated 50,000 tons of contaminated debris has been dumped, is not within the capture zone of a public well, officials said. The county installed test wells at the park in March.

A request for comment from the DEC was not returned.

On Dec. 8, six men and four companies were indicted in connection with illegal dumping. All have pleaded not guilty.

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