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EPA investigates leaking drum at superfund site

Federal investigators are looking into reports of fluid leaking from a drum at a polluted former aviation manufacturing site in Port Jefferson Station.

A resident had reported that a drum inside Lawrence Aviation Industries, a federal Superfund site, was leaking fluid, said Elias Rodriguez, spokesman for the Environmental Protection Agency.

"Our on-scene coordinator was out there [Wednesday] to follow up once we got some pictures to see what the situation was and do an assessment," Rodriguez said.

According to News 12 footage, the drum was labeled hydrofluoric acid, which, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, is used to make such things as refrigerants and can be fatal in high doses.

Rodriguez said the fluid has to be analyzed before the EPA can confirm its content. "It was labeled, but still needs to be sampled and confirmed," he said, adding that "there's no imminent risk to the public."

The site is closed to the public, and the resident who alerted the EPA had obtained photos of the drum from people who had "trespassed" onto the site, Rodriguez said.

A fire at the site in March destroyed the main building. The EPA has been cleaning up the site for years, and the groundwater is being monitored for vapor intrusion. The EPA estimated that removing contaminants from the groundwater will take about 20 years.

The site's owner, Gerald Cohen, could not be reached for comment Thursday.

Despite the trespassers, Rodriguez said the drums and containers at the site are safely secured. "They're on the property, which is secured by a fence. We'll be going back to make sure there is no risk to the public," he said. "We just want to be responsive to the community's concerns."

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