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Contaminants found in majority of wells tested in Wainscott

Data show that more than half of the 258 private wells have either elevated or trace amounts of PFCs that could cause liver damage and affect fetal health.

Officials in East Hampton Town are working with

Officials in East Hampton Town are working with the Suffolk County Water Authority to bring public water to Wainscott, where testing of private wells has revealed perfluorinated compounds. Photo Credit: Gordon M. Grant

The number of private wells in Wainscott with trace or elevated levels of contaminants that could affect fetal health and the immune system has grown to 135, or more than half of those tested, according to East Hampton’s town supervisor.

The town now has data on 258 tested wells. Of those, nine were found to contain perfluorinated compounds, or PFCs, above the federal health advisory level of .07 parts per billion, Supervisor Peter Van Scoyoc said Tuesday during a town board work session. Another 126 wells had traces of the contaminants, but not above that advisory level.

In 2017, 25 wells were initially tested and one was found to have perfluorinated compounds above the advisory level. The results spurred the Suffolk County Department of Health Services to expand the testing.

Officials have said as many as 398 homes could be affected. A mix of second-home owners and year-round residents lives in the area, where homes are frequently listed for $1 million or more.

Exposure to the chemicals can affect the immune system and fetal health, as well as cause liver damage, cancer and thyroid problems, the Environmental Protection Agency has said. The town has since provided bottled water to affected residents.

Town officials have said the cause of the contamination is likely from firefighting foam used during drills at the East Hampton Airport.

The town has discussed funding point of entry water filtration systems on affected properties and is working with the Suffolk County Water Authority to bring public water to the area.

The boundaries of a new water district must first be established, then the water authority will perform an engineering study and the town will host a public hearing on creating a taxing district. Once that process is complete, construction on the mains is expected to take four to five months, after which wells can immediately be connected to public water, Van Scoyoc said.

Additionally, $360,000 has been allotted in the 2018-20 capital budget — which is soon expected to be adopted by the board — to install water filtration in the area.

“Everyone recognizes the importance of getting this done, and we need to move as quickly as possible,” Van Scoyoc said.

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