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More aggressive Superfund site cleanup sought in Bethpage

Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) holds a news conference

Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) holds a news conference at the Nassau County Police Department of Intelligence. (Jan. 4, 2012) Credit: Audrey C. Tiernan

Sen. Charles Schumer is pressing state, military and federal authorities to ramp up treatment plans and remediation efforts on a Superfund site in Bethpage that has contaminated soil and a deep underground toxic plume.

In a letter sent Thursday to the state Department of Environmental Conservation, the Navy and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Schumer (D-N.Y.) criticized a proposed cleanup plan and advocated for a more aggressive approach.

The DEC, which is the lead cleanup agency, is currently taking comments on the plan for Bethpage Community Park, a former Northrop Grumman site turned over to Oyster Bay Town in 1962.

The groundwater is contaminated with high levels of trichloroethene and soils contain polychlorinated biphenyl. Both are carcinogens.

The cleanup plans calls for excavating soils and installing at least one treatment well to extract and remediate contaminants as the plume expands.

Schumer said more needs to be done to protect water supplies, which are threatened in Bethpage, South Farmingdale and Massapequa.

“A long-term commitment to a policy of wellhead treatment, as opposed to aggressive remediation, is shortsighted and dangerous,” Schumer wrote.

In a statement, the DEC said: “DEC appreciates Senator Schumer’s input in this process. We put out our Proposed Remedial Action Plan for comment and are eager to get the public’s input on how to clean this complex site.”

In addition to Northrop Grumman disposing of waste in the park area, the Naval Weapons Industrial Reserve Plant did as well. Schumer called on the Navy to share the costs of cleanup.

The Bethpage Water District is waiting on $14 million in reimbursements to treat water because of the plume, its attorney Anthony Sabino said.

Public comments on the plan are accepted until July 30. A final decision could take months.

Pictured above: Sen. Charles Schumer

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