|Recently Signed Agreement Requires County to Expand Investigation Currently Underway and Develop Remedial Plans
Suffolk County to Continue to Connect Residences With Contaminated Private Wells to the Clean Public Drinking Water System
Actions Build on State's Rapid Response to Address Contamination in Yaphank and Across New York State
As part of the State's ongoing efforts to address perfluorinated compound (PFC) contamination in the area, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) today announced it has executed an agreement with Suffolk County to formalize commitments currently underway to develop a comprehensive cleanup plan for the Firematics firefighting training facility in the hamlet of Yaphank, town of Brookhaven, Suffolk County. In May 2017, DEC listed the site as a superfund site after initial investigations by the County confirmed the contamination.
The Order on Consent now requires the county to expand ongoing groundwater and soil sampling investigations, develop remedial plans, and continue to connect residences with impacted private wells to public drinking water systems or treatment systems free of charge which began in January 2017. All work will be conducted under DECs strict oversight.
"This agreement marks another major milestone in the state's ongoing efforts to clean up this contamination as expeditiously as possible to protect the residents of Yaphank", said DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos. "New York is a national leader in identifying and proactively combatting threats posed by emerging contaminants to protect public health and the environment, and the State's ongoing response with Suffolk County should serve as a model for other communities to follow."
By collaborating across government to proactively investigate and take action when contaminants threaten our water supplies, we are creating a legacy of clean water for future generations," said New York State Department of Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker. "Aggressive actions, like the steps taken in Yaphank, are critical to protecting the public's health and ensuring this community has access to the high quality drinking water it deserves."
In February 2016, Governor Cuomo created the New York State Water Quality Rapid Response Team to aggressively investigate emerging threats to drinking water across the state. Fire training facilities identified in a state survey as having used aqueous film forming foam (AFFF) were targeted, and the State worked quickly with the county to identify sources of perfluorooctane sulfonic acid (PFOS) and perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) contamination emanating from the Firematics training facility in Yaphank.
The WQRRT immediately worked with Suffolk County to address contamination in the area surrounding the facility by working with the county to sample private wells adjacent to the facility and contamination was found. At that time, the county began offering bottled water to local residents impacted by the contamination. Suffolk County then installed several monitoring wells in late 2016, which confirmed the presence of contamination. In January 2017, Suffolk County connected 16 impacted homes to the municipal water system operated by the Suffolk County Water Authority. The county is connecting an additional 32 properties to the municipal system, with work scheduled to be completed by the end of August 2017. The state will continue to oversee Suffolk County and the Suffolk County Water Authority to ensure local residents are fully informed, continue to have access to bottled water, and are quickly connected to the municipal water supply.
DEC's formal designation of Firematics as a Class 2 Superfund Site based on the elevated levels of PFOS and PFOA detected in on- and off-site groundwater and in nearby private drinking water wells enabled the state to exercise its full authority under the State Superfund law to ensure that all remedial measures are carried out to expeditiously clean up contamination from the site and protect Long Island's drinking water.
Pursuant to terms of the Consent Order, Suffolk County is required to develop a Remedial Investigation (RI) and Feasibility Study (FS) work plan. After the work plan is approved by NYSDEC, Suffolk County will implement the plan to continue and expand the investigation of the Firematics site. This will include, at a minimum, additional groundwater and soil sampling. The results of this additional investigation will be used to determine appropriate actions to take in order to clean up the site, which could potentially include PFC-containing foam source and product removal, contaminated soil excavation and removal, and groundwater collection and treatment.
Firematics has served as Suffolk County's firefighting training facility since 1959 and used AFFF in training until May 2016, when chemicals in the foam were classified as hazardous substances by New York State. PFOS and PFOA are part of a class of chemicals known as PFCs. In the absence of federal regulation, New York State took aggressive action on April 25, 2016, and began to regulate PFOS and PFOA as hazardous substances, which enabled the state to use the legal authority and financial resources of the State Superfund Program to clean up contaminated sites.
Throughout the superfund remediation, Suffolk County will continue to keep the community informed on their ongoing cleanup efforts. DEC staff are available to answer any questions from the community by contacting project manager Bob Corcoran at 518-402-9658 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Expanded fish sampling study
DEC and Suffolk County are also collaborating on a sampling project to determine PFC concentrations in surface & ground water and in aquatic species in the area, including crabs, clams and fish. This analysis will provide new information to the public about PFCs in the suspect water bodies, improve our understanding of the relationship between PFC concentrations in water and fish and other aquatic species, and determine if any advisories are necessary to reduce potential human exposure pathways. Once protocols are finalized, sampling will begin in the next several weeks.