49° Good Morning
49° Good Morning

New York takes a bold step against underground toxic plume

Northrop Grumman contractors drill at the corner of

Northrop Grumman contractors drill at the corner of William Street and Broadway in Bethpage on Wednesday, Feb. 18, 2015, as part of an ongoing investigation of a decades-old plume emanating from former manufacturing sites run by the Navy and what is now Northrop Grumman. Credit: Barry Sloan

The DEC is at it again. And that continues to be very good news.

The state Department of Environmental Conservation has been boring in on the work needed to contain and clean the awful groundwater plumes in Bethpage. Now it’s taking another strong step. The agency — still seeking to ramp up the pace of cleanup efforts by Northrop Grumman and the Navy, whose former manufacturing facilities created the plume — has ordered an engineering study focused on stopping the march of the contamination toward Massapequa. Commissioner Basil Seggos expects the analysis to be done by year’s end. With the backing of Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, he plans to push Northrop Grumman and the Navy to do whatever work is recommended. And if they refuse, Seggos says the DEC will get the job done and seek compensation from Northrop Grumman and the Navy. That’s the right call.

It’s also encouraging that the DEC is continuing to ride both entities on the work that’s already underway. More help will come from a recently signed federal water infrastructure bill that contains a provision written by Sen. Chuck Schumer requiring the Navy to report regularly to Congress on the work being done by it and Northrop Grumman.

It’s been a long fight, but the tide seems to be turning.

— The editorial board