Environmental remediation work on former ballfields at Bethpage Community Park...

Environmental remediation work on former ballfields at Bethpage Community Park is shown on May 14. State and Oyster Bay officials have released the results of testing performed on the contents of chemical drums unearthed at the site. Credit: Newsday/John Paraskevas

Laboratory testing on the contents of the first 16 of 22 chemical drums recently unearthed at a former Grumman Aerospace dumping ground at Bethpage Community Park showed results “consistent” with what's already known about pollution at the site, according to state officials. 

The 55-gallon drums contained mostly chemicals the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency associates with degreasers, oil-based products and metals used in manufacturing. 

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation and Town of Oyster Bay did separate testing before releasing matching results after Newsday inquiries.

The DEC said the 16 drums didn't leak and contamination in the surrounding soil — also tested — came from past dumping at the site, where a state-ordered cleanup is ongoing.

Northrop Grumman, the corporate predecessor of Grumman Aerospace, didn't respond to a request for comment Wednesday on the lab results.

Grumman used to manufacture aircraft in Bethpage and used the location as a pit for wastewater sludges and solvent-soaked rags between the 1940s and 1960s, Newsday previously reported.

That was found to be a major contributor to an underwater plume of carcinogenic chemicals that spread from the grounds and now is more than 4 miles long, 2 miles wide and 900 feet deep.

Grumman donated land for the park to the town in 1962. The contamination was discovered in 2002. Last year, Oyster Bay sued the company, criticizing the pace and thoroughness of the cleanup.

Here are five things to know about the lab results:

What was in the drums?

The 16 drums contained volatile organic compounds, or VOCs, and semi-volatile organic compounds, or SVOCs. Fifteen of the drums also had metals and “potential detections” of polychlorinated biphenyls, or PCBs, according to the results. One drum had VOCs, SVOCs, metals and PCBs.

What are VOCs and SVOCs? 

VOCs are usually human-made chemicals that are part of the process of manufacturing paints and other products, according to the EPA. They are common groundwater contaminants and often are components of petroleum fuels, paint thinners and hydraulic fluids. 

“The problem is that they're not biodegradable, so they're going to hang around in the environment for a long time,” said Victor Huang, chemistry department chair at Farmingdale State College.

The professor said the wide variety of different solvents found in the drums, including chemicals like toluene, may have been used to dissolve other substances.

“There's no perfect solvent,” Huang said. “So, if one solvent doesn't work, then they're going to try another.”

The EPA describes SVOCs as compounds that are included in oil-based products, fire retardants and pesticides.

What metals were found and what are PCBs?

Chromium, one of the metals detected in the drums, is used in chrome and steel manufacturing and for some heat-resistant applications, according to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health. Arsenic, barium, cadmium, lead, mercury and silver also were detected among the 16 drums.

“None of those are good,” Huang said of human exposure to the metals, noting they could cause a range of issues that include nervous system problems.

PCBs are a human-made combination of carbon, hydrogen and chlorine atoms and have been used in oil-based paints, hydraulic equipment and electrical equipment, among other uses, according to the EPA, which considers them “probable human carcinogens.”

How do these results compare to initial testing?

In April, the DEC said initial samples from the first six drums found waste petroleum and chlorinated solvents, including trichloroethylene (TCE) — a VOC that is a known carcinogen.

Huang said waste petroleum is “literal fuel.” VOCs are often components of petroleum fuel, according to the EPA. 

In early May, the DEC gave more preliminary details about chemicals in the drums, saying toluene, benzene and xylene were among those shown in test results. 

What about the remaining 6 drums? 

The DEC didn't release test results for the last six drums unearthed at the park. But Oyster Bay officials shared results with Newsday showing five of those six drums included VOCs, SVOCs, metals and PCBs, and one drum was empty.

Laboratory testing on the contents of the first 16 of 22 chemical drums recently unearthed at a former Grumman Aerospace dumping ground at Bethpage Community Park showed results “consistent” with what's already known about pollution at the site, according to state officials. 

The 55-gallon drums contained mostly chemicals the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency associates with degreasers, oil-based products and metals used in manufacturing. 

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation and Town of Oyster Bay did separate testing before releasing matching results after Newsday inquiries.

The DEC said the 16 drums didn't leak and contamination in the surrounding soil — also tested — came from past dumping at the site, where a state-ordered cleanup is ongoing.

Northrop Grumman, the corporate predecessor of Grumman Aerospace, didn't respond to a request for comment Wednesday on the lab results.

Grumman used to manufacture aircraft in Bethpage and used the location as a pit for wastewater sludges and solvent-soaked rags between the 1940s and 1960s, Newsday previously reported.

That was found to be a major contributor to an underwater plume of carcinogenic chemicals that spread from the grounds and now is more than 4 miles long, 2 miles wide and 900 feet deep.

Grumman donated land for the park to the town in 1962. The contamination was discovered in 2002. Last year, Oyster Bay sued the company, criticizing the pace and thoroughness of the cleanup.

Here are five things to know about the lab results:

What was in the drums?

The 16 drums contained volatile organic compounds, or VOCs, and semi-volatile organic compounds, or SVOCs. Fifteen of the drums also had metals and “potential detections” of polychlorinated biphenyls, or PCBs, according to the results. One drum had VOCs, SVOCs, metals and PCBs.

What are VOCs and SVOCs? 

VOCs are usually human-made chemicals that are part of the process of manufacturing paints and other products, according to the EPA. They are common groundwater contaminants and often are components of petroleum fuels, paint thinners and hydraulic fluids. 

“The problem is that they're not biodegradable, so they're going to hang around in the environment for a long time,” said Victor Huang, chemistry department chair at Farmingdale State College.

The professor said the wide variety of different solvents found in the drums, including chemicals like toluene, may have been used to dissolve other substances.

“There's no perfect solvent,” Huang said. “So, if one solvent doesn't work, then they're going to try another.”

The EPA describes SVOCs as compounds that are included in oil-based products, fire retardants and pesticides.

What metals were found and what are PCBs?

Chromium, one of the metals detected in the drums, is used in chrome and steel manufacturing and for some heat-resistant applications, according to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health. Arsenic, barium, cadmium, lead, mercury and silver also were detected among the 16 drums.

“None of those are good,” Huang said of human exposure to the metals, noting they could cause a range of issues that include nervous system problems.

PCBs are a human-made combination of carbon, hydrogen and chlorine atoms and have been used in oil-based paints, hydraulic equipment and electrical equipment, among other uses, according to the EPA, which considers them “probable human carcinogens.”

How do these results compare to initial testing?

In April, the DEC said initial samples from the first six drums found waste petroleum and chlorinated solvents, including trichloroethylene (TCE) — a VOC that is a known carcinogen.

Huang said waste petroleum is “literal fuel.” VOCs are often components of petroleum fuel, according to the EPA. 

In early May, the DEC gave more preliminary details about chemicals in the drums, saying toluene, benzene and xylene were among those shown in test results. 

What about the remaining 6 drums? 

The DEC didn't release test results for the last six drums unearthed at the park. But Oyster Bay officials shared results with Newsday showing five of those six drums included VOCs, SVOCs, metals and PCBs, and one drum was empty.

Newsday Live and nextLI present a conversation with experts on the impact of powerful storms and rising insurance costs on Long Island hosted by NewsdayTV Anchor/Reporter Macy Egeland. The conversation continues on newsday.com/nextli where we invite Long Islanders to share their experiences on this looming crisis of changing weather patterns, flooding, shoreline protection, home buyouts and more to find potential solutions for the region’s future.

Paying the Price: Long Island's stormy future Newsday Live and nextLI present a conversation with experts on the impact of powerful storms and rising insurance costs on Long Island hosted by NewsdayTV Anchor/Reporter Macy Egeland.

Newsday Live and nextLI present a conversation with experts on the impact of powerful storms and rising insurance costs on Long Island hosted by NewsdayTV Anchor/Reporter Macy Egeland. The conversation continues on newsday.com/nextli where we invite Long Islanders to share their experiences on this looming crisis of changing weather patterns, flooding, shoreline protection, home buyouts and more to find potential solutions for the region’s future.

Paying the Price: Long Island's stormy future Newsday Live and nextLI present a conversation with experts on the impact of powerful storms and rising insurance costs on Long Island hosted by NewsdayTV Anchor/Reporter Macy Egeland.

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