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Suffolk County to test water in private wells near Gabreski Airport

Southampton Town Supervisor Jay Schneiderman said he is

Southampton Town Supervisor Jay Schneiderman said he is awaiting data from Suffolk County after a high reading at Gabreski Airport in October to determine how to move forward in addressing contamination.   Credit: John Roca

Private wells in areas of Quogue and East Quogue are being surveyed following the detection of chemicals in a groundwater monitoring well on the eastern area of the Gabreski Airport property, Suffolk County officials announced Thursday. 

The Suffolk County Department of Health Services will be conducting private well surveys at no charge in an area of Quogue southeast of Gabreski Airport and in another area of East Quogue adjacent to the northeast boundary of the airport after detection of perfluorooctane sulfonic acid (PFOS) and perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA). Roughly 33 properties with private wells in Quogue and 29 properties with private wells in East Quogue are in the survey areas, according to the agency’s statement.  

County health department officials did not return requests for comment Friday. 

PFOS and PFOA are part of a class of chemicals known as PFAS (perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances). PFAS have been used in a number of industrial and commercial products such as firefighting foam, as well as coatings that repel water, oil, stains and grease, such as food packaging, water-resistant clothing and stain-resistant carpeting. People may be exposed to PFOS and PFOA through air, water, or soil from industrial sources and from consumer products.

The department's groundwater monitoring found elevated levels of PFOS and PFOA at a county-owned brownfields site known as the Canine Kennel, located in the eastern area of Gabreski Airport.  However, county officials said in a news release, "based on the location of these detections, it appears that the Canine Kennel site is not the source of the PFAS in groundwater." 

Residents whose homes are connected to a public water supply do not need to have their water tested as the public water supply is routinely tested, according to the county.  As a precautionary measure while wells are being tested, residents who live in the survey areas and use private wells for drinking or cooking may want to take advantage of free bottled water being provided by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, county officials said.

Southampton Deputy Supervisor Frank Zappone  said Friday that county officials have been working with Southampton Town and Quogue on the issue.

“We don’t know what step they are at yet, but it was my understanding letters are going out to residents in the areas who they identified as having private wells,” Zappone said.

Zappone said it was possible seasonal renters were occupying a good portion of residences in the survey areas, which meant it was important to contact homeowners for those properties so the county can conduct the well surveys.

As of Friday, the county has not reached the town to get contact information for homeowners. However, Zappone said he had been told that county health officials were “in the process” of notifying those in the survey area.

Residents in those areas utilizing private wells can contact the county health department’s Office of Water Resources at 631-852-5810 to have their wells tested. People who are unsure if they are connected to public water may call the Suffolk County Water Authority at 631-698-9500.

If you use private well water for cooking and drinking and live in the survey area, call 631-852-4820 to schedule a delivery of free bottled water.

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