Officials: Blue soil spotted near where buried drums were found at Bethpage park

The 16 chemical drums were found buried under the baseball field at the park, sparking concerns from many in the community about the decades-long cleanup by Grumman.

Jon Dowding

Apr 25, 2024, 12:44 AM

Updated 81 days ago


Oyster Bay Town officials say crews spotted blue soil around the area where over a dozen drums were found buried in Bethpage Community Park as they continue to test the soil and the contents of the drums.
The 16 chemical drums were found buried under the baseball field at the park, sparking concerns from many in the community about the decades-long cleanup by Grumman.
As previously reported, Grumman has faced decades of criticism for an underground toxic plume of chemicals that has been spreading from Bethpage for years. The company still faces lawsuits from those who say they've been impacted by the pollution.
Gregory Cade, from the Environmental Litigation Group, represents a number of residents who claim they’ve been impacted by the plume. He says the recent discoveries in the park infuriate the plaintiffs.
"It really angers the community even more. I mean, efforts have been put in place for a long, long time to clean up that area,” he said. "50, 60 years later we're finding drums in the park where kids and people play."
A major concern expressed by community members has been any potential impacts to the water supply.
South Farmingdale Water District Superintendent Francis Koch showed News 12 how they detect and treat any contaminants from the plume found in the water.
"Our biggest challenge is the Bethpage plume,” he said. "Any time we see anything that's new in the plume, it's a concern and we stand up and say, 'OK, let's see what's going on with this.' It's still a far enough distance and we'll always be prepared by the time that it comes to us."
The Department of Environmental Conservation has said the recent discovery at the park has not posed a threat to the community's water or air quality.
Still, Saladino says say most of the park still needs to be searched with ground penetrating radar.
"In the ballfield, in the skate park, all of that has to be searched,” said Saladino. “They're currently leveling the vegetation so they can get that equipment in here, but that's only the first step."
The state DEC reached out to News 12 with the following update on the operations at the site:
“It is not uncommon for DEC to encounter soil contamination, as well as buried underground storage tanks, intact drums, drum carcasses, drywells, tank lines, etc., when investigating and remediating large and complex former industrial sites. When contamination is encountered, necessary steps are taken to safely assess the contents for disposal purposes and develop a plan to remove the contents. DEC continues to closely oversee Northrop Grumman’s efforts, in coordination with the town of Oyster Bay, New York State Department of Health, and the U.S. EPA. It should be noted that no signs of leakage were documented by field crews. Soil samples were also collected from soil excavated from around the drums and the excavation sidewalls and sent to the lab for analysis. Laboratory results are pending and will be used to determine the proper disposal of the excavated soil. Air monitoring was performed at the drum excavation area and at the perimeter of the site as part of the ongoing thermal cleanup work. Once the remedy, outlined in a 2013 Record of Decision, has been fully implemented, the areas of the Bethpage Community Park that are currently closed (e.g., the former ballfield area) will be restored. This area was fenced when the town closed the ballfield in 2003 and is inaccessible to the public. The former ballfield area is the location where the bulk of the disposal took place while the property was owned by Grumman.”

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