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Suffolk County plans to drill test wells at Sand Land site

The Noyack site known as Sand Land, owned

The Noyack site known as Sand Land, owned by Wainscott Sand & Gravel, is pictured on March 16, 2016.  Photo Credit: Doug Kuntz

Suffolk County is planning to drill monitoring wells at a 50-acre sand mining operation in Noyack to sample groundwater for metals, volatile organic chemicals, pesticides, radioactive isotopes and other contaminants.

The property, known as Sand Land Corp., has been under scrutiny for years from the state Department of Environmental Conservation, Southampton Town, the county and environmental groups concerned that mining and composting operations there contaminated groundwater or violated codes.

Suffolk County Department of Health Services spokeswoman Grace Kelly-McGovern said in an email that the agency plans to begin the drilling within the next month at the site, which is owned by Wainscott Sand & Gravel Corp.

It will take six to eight weeks to install the wells and collect samples and about “three to four months to receive, compile and analyze testing results,” she said.

The Suffolk County Legislature passed a resolution in 2014 ordering the health services department to investigate the site on Middle Line Highway, which sits between a golf course and a subdivision of luxury homes. Wells were installed near the site but the county went to court for access to the actual property for additional wells. Suffolk Supreme Court Judge Joseph Santorelli ruled in August that an access warrant issued last November could be enforced.

“This continued on-site investigation will delineate the magnitude and extent of any contamination, and will provide essential information that will assist to more precisely locate specific sources of contamination,” associate hydrogeologist Ronald J. Paulsen wrote in a 2016 affidavit. “The data collected shall be used to further protect the groundwater for contamination, and help protect the current drinking water wells in the area.”

John Tintle, owner of Wainscott Sand & Gravel, could not be reached. But his attorney, Brian E. Matthews, told Newsday on Friday that he had filed a notice to appeal the access warrant approval, which started a six-month window for his client to file an official protest.

Matthews said he believed access would be granted but his client wanted more specifics about what activity would happen on the property, the number of wells and assurances that safety protocols would be in effect.

“Our client never has been opposed to having groundwater monitoring or groundwater sampling at the property,” Matthews said.

Suffolk County Deputy County Executive Peter Scully said the county received the filing but it did not come with any order to halt action. “There is no stay in effect and the county is free to proceed and we plan to proceed in the next few weeks,” he said.

Citizens Campaign for the Environment executive director Adrienne Esposito cheered the access ruling and the county’s plans to investigate the site.

“It’s not only important to Southampton, it sends a message throughout Long Island to other sand-mining operations that public health is a priority,” Esposito said.

Court documents show Sand Land said it stopped grinding land-clearing debris and vegetative organic waste materials at the site in May 2016.

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