DEC Drilling Operations to Assess Containment Options for U.S. Navy / Northrop Grumman Contamination Plume
New Wells Installed to Monitor Groundwater and Generate Important Data to Determine Cleanup Options. DEC Paying for Accelerated Testing and will Pursue Costs from Polluters.
New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Basil Seggos today announced drilling operations are underway as part of the state’s ongoing investigation to fully analyze containment options of the U.S. Navy/Northrop Grumman underground plume of contamination in Nassau County. Construction has begun on the first of two new deep groundwater monitoring wells with expected completion of the drilling in the coming weeks.
In February 2017, Governor Cuomo directed the DEC to undertake an immediate engineering investigation to expedite containment of the groundwater plume contaminated with industrial solvents from former operations of the U.S. Navy and Northrop Grumman in the area. The underground plume is estimated to be nearly three miles long by one mile wide. The well currently being installed will provide valuable data to assess expedited cleanup options, including full containment of the plume, in order to protect the public and the environment from this contamination.
“Through Governor Cuomo’s leadership, DEC is expanding ongoing remedial activities to fully inform the state’s investigation and will explore every available option to contain and remove the contamination impacting critical drinking water resources in this community as quickly and thoroughly as possible,” said DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos. “New York State is aggressively investigating this contamination and will not rest until the polluters are held accountable for containing the spread of this plume and finally cleaning up their mess.”
At the Governor’s direction, DEC’s environmental consultant, HDR, began drilling the deep groundwater monitoring well on July 27, and will advance to a depth of approximately 800 feet below ground. The new wells along the leading edge of the U.S. Navy/Northrop Grumman plume, which are being paid for through the NYS Superfund program, will be used to develop effective containment options. DEC will seek to recover all these costs from the polluters.
As the well boring is advanced, samples are being collected to evaluate groundwater quality and flow. The work poses no exposure risk to community residents. In addition, as an added precaution, a DEC-approved community air monitoring program is being implemented during the drilling. At the Governor’s direction, DEC will be holding a community meeting this fall to discuss preliminary outputs of the modeling and options for containment, and address any questions and concerns from area residents.
Drilling operations at this location will last for a total of approximately six weeks due to the depth of the well. Once the work is completed, the area will be returned to its current condition, and a small concrete pad and manhole cover will be installed to protect the permanent well.
The expanded study and drilling are part of New York’s ongoing aggressive efforts to hold the polluters accountable to address the contamination associated with the U.S. Navy/Northrop Grumman groundwater plume.
The engineering study, started in February 2017, includes an evaluation of environmental impacts, reuse and recharge options for the potential millions of gallons of water per day that would be collected and treated, aquifer sustainability, incorporation of existing remedial systems, detailed groundwater modeling, and an examination of the impact of emerging contaminants such as 1,4-dioxane.
DEC, with its consultant HDR, has partnered with the U.S Geological Survey to perform the necessary and extremely complex modeling of possible containment solutions. DEC expects to release preliminary findings for public review by the end of 2017.
“I welcome this development and will continue my efforts to ensure the safety of Bethpage, Massapequa, and the surrounding areas and remediate this groundwater contamination plume once and for all,” said Congressman Peter King.
“This is an important step that must be undertaken to obtain more information about contamination levels at the Navy/Grumman plume. While the drinking water has been deemed safe, all necessary measures must be taken to evaluate the quality of the groundwater to give local residents peace of mind. It’s critical for all local stakeholders to work together to get this cleaned up swiftly and efficiently,” said Congressman Tom Suozzi.
Senator Kemp Hannon (R-Nassau) said, “I commend the DEC and Governor for their actions in analyzing containment options of the Navy/Grumman plume. We need to ensure the contamination from the Navy and Grumman does not threaten additional drinking water wells. Our actions to hold polluters accountable and to use Superfund resources is crucial in protecting the public from groundwater contamination.”
Senator John Brooks said, “It is imperative for the health of Long Islanders and the safety of our drinking water that an aggressive plan for containment and remediation of the Bethpage Plume and related sites, is adopted and enforced, without delay. Partial, opaque reports from Northrop Grumman on radioactive contamination, along with excuses and stone-walling will no longer be tolerated by the people of New York State or those who represent them. This has been an issue for far too long and I look forward to working with Governor Cuomo on eliminating the threat to Long Island’s drinking water.”
“I’m pleased that Governor Cuomo and DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos are working with local officials to ensure that our water quality is top notch,” said Assemblyman Michael Montesano (R,C, Ref-Glen Head). “We need to ensure that our children and families have the very best water quality and have the opportunity to grow up in a healthy environment, and this study will help identify the issues and help us, as legislators, address them effectively.”
The cleanup of contamination at this state Superfund site is being conducted by Northrop Grumman and the U.S. Navy under multiple Consent Orders and agreements with New York State. DEC is requiring the two parties to remediate soil and groundwater contamination.
DEC will consider the new engineering analysis in accordance with Federal and State Superfund laws, and if the state’s evaluation requires additional remediation including full containment, DEC will require Northrop Grumman and the U.S. Navy to conduct and pay for all necessary remedial actions. The state has also commenced a Natural Resource Damages Assessment to quantify the impact to groundwater resources and obtain funding from the responsible parties to support implementation of groundwater resource restoration and replacement projects.
Anyone with information related to the plume is encouraged to contact DEC’s tip line immediately at: 1-844-DEC-ECOS (1-844-332-3267).