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Jul 4, 2018 9:22 AMPublication: The Southampton Press

Investigation Reveals Significant Contamination To Groundwater At Sand Land Site In Noyac

The Sand Land sand mine in Noyac. PRESS FILE
Jul 4, 2018 9:46 AM

A final report from the Suffolk County Department of Health Services shows that there was significant contamination to the aquifer that sits beneath a Noyac sand mine and mulch composting business that has long been suspected of polluting the water supply.

The investigation, which was mandated by the Suffolk County Legislature in 2015, tested both surface and groundwater near Sand Land, which is owned by Wainscott Sand and Gravel, and included the installation of 21 monitoring wells, on and off the site, and the collection of 83 groundwater samples, four surface water samples, four soil samples and 10 organic samples.

The Health Department initiated the groundwater investigation in May 2015 but hit a roadblock when the property owner refused to provide access to Sand Land’s 50-acre site. After a warrant was signed by a State Supreme Court judge in August 2017, the department conducted the on-site investigation in October 2017.

Sand Land’s attorney, Brian Matthews of Matthews, Kirst & Cooley PLLC in East Hampton, could not immediately be reached for comment this week.

The results, which were made public on Friday in a final written report, show elevated levels of chemicals and contaminants in the groundwater, including manganese, iron, thallium, sodium, nitrate, ammonia and gross alpha, as well as pesticides found in surface water.

According to Robert DeLuca, president of the Group for the East End, an environmental advocacy organization that had been pushing for the testing, Sand Land began processing organic waste, like manure and mulch, sometime in the past 10 to 15 years, which heightened the concern for potential contamination to the aquifer, which sits an estimated 137 to 154 feet bellow the surface.

“Contamination from the property is deep into the aquifer, which is accessed by every area of the county—this underground supply of water is what we all pull from,” Mr. DeLuca explained. “It’s very disheartening. It’s not easy to remove, and, of course, that water is moving in the direction of surface water flow, so, down the road, this is a water quality issue for areas a great distance from the site.”

Groundwater samples taken from multiple on-site monitoring wells found that the metal chemical elements manganese and iron exceeded drinking and groundwater standards by almost 100 times and by more than 200 times, respectively.

In some wells, tests detected iron concentrations ranging up to 9.48 parts per million, or ppm, significantly higher than the drinking and groundwater standard of 0.3 ppm. Also stated in the report, multiple detections of manganese concentrations ranged from 341 to 715 ppb, which is higher than the recommended 300 ppb.

Tests done at nearby down gradient off-site wells also picked up high concentrations of manganese, iron, nitrate and toluene.

“The evidence shows significant negative groundwater impacts from the waste management activities occurring at the site,” Suffolk County Legislator Bridget Fleming said in a statement. “… It is therefore imperative that the activity cease unless mitigation measures to effectively prevent groundwater impacts are identified and implemented.”

In the report, the Health Department recommended sampling private wells in the area surrounding Sand Land to assess impacts to drinking water and ensure that the facility is in compliance with current code and permitting requirements.

Mr. DeLuca said he hopes the report will serve as a call for action, and said he and local environmental groups plan to refine the recommendations laid out by the Health Department.

“Because of the testing, we are able to isolate contamination from this site, which then speaks to whether or not we can take action,” he said.

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We should refer this matter to Scott Pruitt.

He’s the “take charge” guy against environmental criminals.
By aging hipster (154), Southampton on Jul 4, 18 11:14 AM
1 member liked this comment
Sure hope that there are existing laws that can prevent Sand Land from continuing these operations.
By adlkjd923ilifmac.aladfksdurwp (520), southampton on Jul 4, 18 4:23 PM
Thallium sulfate has been illegal for over forty years.
By Mr. Z (10218), North Sea on Jul 4, 18 4:51 PM
Before that it was used as a potent rat poison.
Jul 4, 18 5:05 PM appended by pw herman
Nature is a mad scientist.
By pw herman (1004), southampton on Jul 4, 18 5:05 PM
Do sand mining operations use or dispose of these chemicals - or is this another instance of a former industrial/disposal site being repurposed for sand mining and the contamination being discovered decades after the fact?
By Funbeer (239), Southampton on Jul 4, 18 6:12 PM
There has been a basic sand pit there for many decades, at least back to the mid-1960's IMO. Not sure about any industrial operations, but I would guess not.

Is it possible that the old dump on the west side of Major's Path, and/or the older operations at the new dump on the east side [before it was lined/capped], are contributing to the problems found way down in the aquifer?

It would be interesting to read the report, if a PDF could be posted here, or a link to the Suffolk County ...more
By PBR (4868), Southampton on Jul 4, 18 7:27 PM
1 member liked this comment
Groundwater contamination is widespread throughout Lung Guyland. The Gravel Pit off Millstone road sometimes smelled so strongly it took ones breath away.
Going forward, the most serious threat to groundwater and surface waters are septic systems. The East End badly needs a Municipal Wastewater Treatment Facility -- now to find a group of waterfront homeowners who would like one near their home.
By Aeshtron (71), Southampton on Jul 5, 18 9:24 AM
Check the chronology here: At an unspecified date in 2015, the County orders an investigation. In May 2015, the owner refuses access to the investigators. In August 2017, a warrant is finally obtained, and in October 2017 the investigation begins. After extensive sampling and analysis, we now get the report, in July 2018.

What's the biggest gap in this sequence? The over two years between the owner's shutting the County out in May 2015 and the issuance of the warrant in August 2017. ...more
By Turkey Bridge (1844), Quiogue on Jul 5, 18 12:43 PM
Golf at the Bridge which abuts this property. was a race track for many many years. Isnt it possible that some contamination is coming form that site?? Would love to know the findings of that site prior to being a golf course.
By North Sea Citizen (487), North Sea on Jul 6, 18 5:49 AM
It would be interesting to drill test holes at the Bridge to the same depth as the test holes in the sand mine to determine if the contaminants came from the race track which was on the Bridge property.
By A Great American (37), East Quogue on Jul 6, 18 11:59 PM