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Former Cold War missile base in Westhampton could be deemed Superfund site

The site of the former BOMARC Missile Base

The site of the former BOMARC Missile Base in Westhampton on March 21, 2011. Credit: Joseph D. Sullivan

 A former Air Force missile base in Westhampton designed to protect the country from a potential Soviet air attack during the Cold War may be designated a Superfund site, Suffolk County health officials said Thursday.

The BOMARC Missile Base on Old Country Road in Westhampton could join the New York State Registry of Inactive Hazardous Waste Disposal Sites if further testing determines that hazardous waste disposed on the property places the public or environment at undue risk, said county Health Commissioner James Tomarken in a news release.

Tomarken was informed of the potential listing as a Superfund site on Dec. 5.

“The BOMARC site, which comprises approximately 186 acres, is being investigated as the result of the detection of per and polyfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS, in samples from both private wells and on-site groundwater monitoring wells and polychlorinated biphenyls, or PCBs, in soil samples collected on the site,” said the announcement issued Thursday.

The location was one of 10 Air Force-managed Boeing and Michigan Aeronautical Research Center facilities protecting the East Coast from a potential Soviet air attack from 1959 until 1964, when it was decommissioned, officials said, adding that as many as 56 nuclear-tipped missiles were located there.

After decommissioning, it was turned over to Suffolk County, which has used the site for “storage of automobiles involved in serious accidents, as a law enforcement shooting range, and as a vehicle training course for emergency responders, among other uses.”

The development comes amid an ongoing survey and investigation of private wells in Westhampton, an effort that began in 2017 following the detection of perfluorooctanesulfonate (PFOS) in a Suffolk County Water Authority public supply well located south of the former BOMARC facility, officials said.

Officials said the public water supply in the area “currently meets all existing drinking water standards, as well as proposed maximum contaminant levels for PFAS and 1,4-dioxane.”

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