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Nov 6, 2018 12:46 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Southampton Supervisor Not Convinced That Damascus Road Landfill Is Source Of Water Contamination

Nov 6, 2018 3:44 PM

An investigation into whether hazardous contaminants discovered in drinking water wells near Lewis Road in East Quogue may have emanated from a former Southampton Town-owned landfill in East Quogue may indicate that they did—but some town officials, including Supervisor Jay Schneiderman, are still not convinced.

Mr. Schneiderman is asking that more testing be completed, and that the testing, which centered on the landfill, be expanded to include areas to the north and west of the site, between Francis S. Gabreski Airport in Westhampton and the landfill.

The groundwater in that area runs from northwest to southeast, and Mr. Schneiderman said he believes the contamination could have come from the vicinity of the airport.

During a work session on Thursday, November 1, Town Board members were presented with a study conducted by Eric Weinstock, a hydrologist with the Wood Group, that looked into possible sources of contamination at the Damascus Road landfill. He concluded that the data point to the landfill being the source of contamination, as suggested by the State Department of Environmental Conservation earlier this year.

In January, perfluorooctanesulfonic acid, or PFOS, and perfluorooctanoic acid, or PFOA, were found in the drinking water of 24 private wells near the former landfill site, which is still owned by the town. The site was originally used by people to dump storm debris, but it became inactive almost 30 years ago.

In April 2016, the state designated PFOs of both types as dangerous chemicals that should be monitored. That same year, more than 100 private and public drinking wells near Francis S. Gabreski Airport in Westhampton were found to have traces of PFOs, thought to originate from fire training activities at the airport. Foam used by the fire department until the early 2000s contained the toxic compounds.

When the contaminants were found at the former landfill site in East Quogue, the DEC detected levels as high as 11,000 parts per trillion, or ppt; for context, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency set the health advisory level for water containing the chemicals at 70 ppt. Though the EPA’s threshold is only an advisory, it recommends the wells not be used when higher than 70 ppt.

Mr. Schneiderman said the town gave bottled water to those with private wells in the area, and the Suffolk County Health Department started testing groundwater with monitoring wells around the old landfill to see if any had PFOS or PFOA levels above the safe level.

“At the same time, the DEC started pointing a finger at this Damascus Road landfill as the possible source of contamination,” Mr. Schneiderman said, explaining the DEC declared the former landfill a possible Superfund site—a contaminated site that poses a risk to human health and the environment. This entailed the town being required to conduct an investigation. So they town hired the Wood Group to do the study.

Mr. Weinstock said during the study, groundwater samples were pulled from three wells around the property. One monitoring well was upstream from the landfill site, to see what was entering the area. Another monitoring well was on the lower edge, and allowed Mr. Weinstock and his crew to see what sort of contamination was in the water after it flowed through the site. The third monitoring well was to the west of the property.

In February 2018, Mr. Weinstock said, the well on the lower edge was the only one that revealed PFOs at levels of concern. “That well had 11,200 ppt of PFOS and 424 ppt of PFOA,” Mr. Weinstock said.

He added that samples were pulled in August 2018, and the levels were 4,050 ppt of PFOS and 96 ppt of PFOA—still higher than the EPA limit of 70 ppt.

Mr. Weinstock said the relatively rainy summer might have contributed to the lower numbers with the fresh recharge of rainwater entering the ground, but the ratio of having a higher PFOS than PFOA was the same.

The other two wells were below the 70 ppt threshold. Despite the PFOs numbers being higher as the water exits the landfill, Mr. Schneiderman had his doubts that the site was contributing to the contamination of groundwater.

“I’m not convinced this is a contributing site to the PFOS and PFOA issue,” he said. “I’m not convinced it’s a Superfund site.”

Mr. Schneiderman offered alternate explanations: He said a plane could have crashed toward the end of the airport, upstream from the landfill, and the fire from the crash could have been put out with foam containing the toxic compounds. He did not say whether a crash actually occurred there, but he was looking into it.

To dive deeper into his hypothesis, Mr. Schneiderman asked that Mr. Weinstock’s company look at areas between the airport and the landfill.

Mr. Weinstock told board members he would work with Deputy Supervisor Frank Zappone to figure out the next course of action, which could mean the expansion of well monitoring to see if the contamination is coming from anywhere else, including the airfield.

“I think we’re a long way away from determining if the airfield was a source of the contamination,” Mr. Schneiderman said.

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A plane might have crashed? Did Jay just make that up on the spot?
By adlkjd923ilifmac.aladfksdurwp (747), southampton on Nov 7, 18 10:44 AM
Or perhaps Aliens landed at the airport and secretly transported the contaminated soil from there to the wells in East Quogue?

Come on Mr. Schneiderman, quit the hypothecation and review the FACTS. Above the site, water was not contaminated - below it the water was contaminated. The site IS contaminating the wells, and the Town is obligated to provide ALL of its residents with clean, safe water. That 4-5 figure cost shouldn't fall to the homeowners!

And to clarify, the Town is ...more
By EQMama (29), East Quogue on Nov 7, 18 10:56 AM
1 member liked this comment
The Damascus landfill was a landfill where people dumped ALL of their household refuse with no restrictions. Not just "storm debris".

Seven months and the Town of Southampton continues to kick the can down the road. Also, talk with residents who lived here years ago.

$4 million for a cinema in the Village of Sag Harbor...$0 for access to safe water for the Hamlet of East Quogue.
By cmac (184), East Quogue on Nov 7, 18 3:27 PM
I seriously urge everyone to watch the Nov 1st Southampton Town Board work session. The hydrologist tells the Supervisor that there is a groundwater creek that would prevent contamination from Gabreski from entering the Damascus site. Residents of East Quogue need safe water NOW!!

By cmac (184), East Quogue on Nov 7, 18 3:38 PM
This is an absolute disgrace. This would never happen anywhere but HB or EQ. We may not have the money but we have the votes.
By G.A.Lombardi (575), Hampton Bays on Nov 7, 18 10:25 PM
1 member liked this comment
If only there was a PDD or some other similar source for private funding of water quality projects.
By Damon.Hagan (34), East Quogue on Nov 8, 18 11:48 AM
If only the civic groups and Town Board members that opposed the PDD actually cared about water quality! There is a contaminated Town owned property literally across the street that is actively contaminating our drinking water and all you hear is crickets!
By cmac (184), East Quogue on Nov 8, 18 1:57 PM
Has anyone considered that the farms might be a likely culprit ?
By adlkjd923ilifmac.aladfksdurwp (747), southampton on Nov 27, 18 8:28 AM