PFOA stands for "perfluorooctanic acid." It is used in a wide range of products. It is best known as a component of the chemical, Teflon, used in non-stick kitchen cookware. It is known to be toxic to humans and animals. Birds are especially sensitive to the chemical. It has been found in the water supply in Hoosik Falls, in upstate New York. It has also been found by one water supplier in Nassau County. In addition, PFOS (perfluorooctanesulfonic acid - - the sister chemical to PFOA), has been found in the private wells of residents living near the Gabreski aiprort, in Suffolk County. The US EPA recently recommended a drinking water guideline for PFOA or PFOS at 0.07 parts per billion. After the discovery, a program to collect more samples around the airport was undertaken. Reported by Jennifer Barrios, Newsday. July 30, 2016.
UPDATE: The Hampton Bays Water District announced it filed a lawsuit (2-21-2018) against manufacturers who used PFOA and PFOS in their fire-fighting chemicals and which have subsequently turned up in 3 of the 11 wells in the district. The suit named 3M Co., Buckeye Fir Equipment Co., Chemguard Inc., Tyco Fire Products and National Foam Inc. Wells were found to contain PFCs (perfluorinated compounds) in 2016 and 2017 and were removed from service. Reported by Vera Chinese, Newsday, March 2, 2018.
The old Roosevelt Field was the site of airplane history. Now, it the home of a major shopping mall in the middle of Nassau County, New York. The site is also historic because it has been known as the source of serious groundwater contamination for over 40 years. Still, it was left to linger, unattended to for many decades. Following efforts to treat the contamination with "air stipping towers", the conditions have not substantially improved so the US EPA is trying again to contain the contamination that is flowing south from the site toward the largest village on Long Island, the Village of Hempstead. Now, EPA is proposing a new effort estimated at $13 million to install a "pump and treat" system to remediate the groundwater plume that is a designated Superfund Site. Reported by Angelique D'Alessandro, Newsday, March 6, 2018.
The NYS DEC had set late summer (2018) to release an updated report on a clean up plan for the Navy/Grumman groundwater plume at Bethpage. The report was expected from the consulting firm HDR that was hired to revise its original clean up plan from 2016. The report is now 7 months late and still has not been released to the public for review and comment. The sticking point is how to handle the many millions of gallons of water per day that would be treated to remove pollutants in the plumes. The original HDR Report suggested treating 19 million gallons per day and then dumping the cleaned water into the Nassau County sewage system or into streams such as Massapequa Creek. This approach was widely criticized. Removing 19 million gallons per day represents 10% of all drinking water pumped per day in Nassau. How to return that water to the aquifers is the challenge. It is not clear when the report will become available. It is April 2019 and still no sign of the report..
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The Bethpage Water District which has been fighting to clean up the groundwater within its area from pollution originating from the Northrop Grumman Corp. property. Their lawsuit for damages ran into problems in the US District Court of Appeals in Manhattan. A three-judge panel ruled that the statute of limitations has expired on Bethpage's claim for damages and that it should have filed its claim earlier. There is a 3-year clock for filing a claim. Northrop Grumman claimed Bethpage should have filed its claim before 2010. The water district has spent $15 - 20 million on additional treatment for its wells and was seeking compensation. Reported by Emily Dooley, Newsday, March 2, 2018.
The Port Washington Water District identified high water use customers and requested that they conduct their own water audits to identify ways to lower their individual water use. The water district noted that about 1.49 billion gallons of water was used in 2015, which represented a 9% increase over water pumpage in 2011. The largest water use customers included:
The Port Washington Water District is to be commended on their efforts to bring water use issues to their customers and to help reduce water waste and over consumption. Reported by Scott Eidler, Newsday, July 21, 2016.
Old Westbury, in response to increased water demand in the upscale community in central Nassau County, has drilled new wells and has now completed a large new water storage tank. The district now has 7 wells and 2 storage tanks. The 1,300 water customers in the Village have one of the highest per capita water demands on Long Island. Reported by Christine Chung, Newsday, March 5, 2018.
In January 2017, the New York State DEC asked all water suppliers on Long Island to develop updated water conservation plans designed to reduce summer water pumpage by 15%. The voluntary program will track performance for several years to assess how effective the conservation measures are. Reduced pumpage is especially important for water systems in Nassau County where the impacts of over-pumping are being seen in the spread of contamination plumes and saltwater intrusion along the shoreline portions of the aquifer system.
The City of Glen Cove, in Nassau County, is working to keep two of its three wells in operation after they were ordered closed due to contamination by Freon 22. The Nassau County Department of Health ordered the wells closed upon confirmation of the contamination. However, the water district is working hard to gets the wells operational by the summer to be able to meet the high water demand and can not afford to be without the two wells. Since it would take at least a year to custom-build the Air Stripping towers needed to treat the water, as an interim measure, the district will install used systems. The City was also ordered to implement a water conservation program to reduce demand. The interim system was nearing completion in October 2018. Source: David Olson, Newsday, 3-8-2018; updated 10-2018.
New York State DWQC met in December 2018 and recommended to the State Health Department drinking water standards (also known as MCLs = maximum contaminant levels) for three contaminants of concerns. For 1,4 Dioxane, it recommended an MCL of 1 part per billion. It also recommended an MCL of 10 parts per trillion for PFOS and PFOA. The PFOS/PFOA MCLs will become the strongest drinking water standards in the nation if they are implemented as recommended. The State Health department also noted that it could also set a collective standard for a group of PFCs along with the individual MCLs recommended by the DWQC. Reported by David Schwartz, Newsday, Dec. 19, 2018.
The Long Island region of New York State is no longer is a condition of drought. In fact, 2018 received above-average rainfall. Regionally, rainfall averages 45-46 inches per year. 2018 received rainfall about 10 inches above average.
Recent reporting (March 2019) illustrates a classic example of sacrificing groundwater protection to profit and greed. Two examples show how state oversight of the natural resources slips through the cracks in environmental laws until the damage has been done.
FISH FARM EXAMPLE: A proposed fish farming business in Yaphank, New York (Town of Brookhaven) has claimed a plan to raise fish such as sturgeon, striped bass and vegetables such as salad greens. However, their main activity so far has been to illegally excavate millions of yards of sand according to the NYS DEC. One of the points of controversy is whether the business mined land outside of their property boundaries. The other is that the business had no sand mining permit from the NYS DEC. The activities by BlueGreen Farms date back to 2010. Recently, the NYS DEC has fined the company $1.3 million for its activities.
SAND LAND: This large sand mining operation in Noyac in Southampton Township has been the focus of extensive public condemnation due to its impact on local groundwater. Suffolk County has reported that the sand mining operation has negatively impacted groundwater for more than 8 years. Elevated levels of manganese and iron in groundwater are related to composting and mulching activities at the mining site. In September 2018, NYS DEC denied an application to renew the Sand Land mining permit which was set to expire in November 2018. This decision was met with widespread applause. Then, at the end of March 2019, the NYS DEC announced it had reached an agreement with Sand Land to allow continued sand mining for another 8 years and to dig an additional 40 feet deeper into the aquifer and groundwater.
In response to this news, the Town of Southampton, Assemblyman Fred Thiele, and community organizations have filed a petition (April 2019) in NYS Supreme Court to overturn the DEC decision. In addition, Assemb. Thiele has sponsored legislation that would give local government a role in authorizing sand mining and setting rules for mining. The legislation passed the State Assembly in 2018. It still needs to be passed in the NYS Senate. (Reported by Vera Chinese, Newsday, March 29 and April 19, 2019.)