Overcast 36° Good Afternoon
Overcast 36° Good Afternoon

Finally some progress on Bethpage toxic plume

Sen. Chuck Schumer, on Jan. 25, 2016, with

Sen. Chuck Schumer, on Jan. 25, 2016, with a map of the plume in Nassau County, calls on the U.S. Navy and Northrop Grumman to share data from their monitoring wells with all affected Long Island Water Districts at the Massapequa Water District Pump Station. Photo Credit: Steve Pfost

In its recent meeting with Bethpage residents, Northrop Grumman officials wanted to explain its efforts to address the awful underground plume there. Officials used words like “expedited” and “aggressive.”

We’re not kidding. Northrop Grumman has been uncooperative and reluctant to accept its responsibility to clean up the mess it bequeathed Long Island. But now, finally, it is acting.

The company is promising to drill three wells, pipe the water to a new treatment plant it will build, and do so by the end of 2017 in order to remove trichloroethene and other volatile organic compounds from the part of the plume emanating from Bethpage Community Park.

This is a positive development in a scandal with few such moments, and credit must be given.

The state Department of Environmental Conservation under new commissioner Basil Seggos pressured Northrop Grumman and the Navy to put plans into action and stay on schedule. Seggos attended a Bethpage Water District board meeting this spring and promised the agency would remain committed. It has.

The office of Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo has been involved since the debacle in Flint, Michigan, burst into the nation’s consciousness in January. The DEC is about to issue a report on how to stop the leading edge of the plume from traveling any farther south, a report required by legislation sponsored by Assemb. Joseph Saladino (R-Massapequa). With the Navy planning its own treatment program for the western side of the plume, there clearly has been a change in the dynamic. At long last.

Seggos, Cuomo and Saladino have done well. Now they need to keep the heat turned up high, so what looks like progress doesn’t become only a vision.