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Apr 10, 2019 10:56 AMPublication: The Southampton Press

Southampton Town Board Pursues Local Law Requiring Groundwater Monitoring At Mines

Southampton Town Board members scheduled a public hearing for a proposed law to impose stricter mining regulations on Tuesday. GREG WEHNER
Apr 10, 2019 10:56 AM

The Southampton Town Board is seeking to impose stricter mining regulations throughout the municipality in a response to the State Department of Environmental Conservation’s settlement agreement last month with the Sand Land mine in Noyac, which permitted continued mining operations and expansions.

At the April 9 Town Board meeting, board members scheduled a public hearing for April 30 at 6 p.m. at Town Hall on a proposed local law requiring groundwater monitoring at mines and mining reclamation operations—a law they were not authorized to enact until five months ago.

The DEC agreement, made behind closed doors and announced to the public on March 15, granted Sand Land another eight years of operation and allowed for an additional 40 feet of underground excavation. It stated that Sand Land will have to cease operations within those eight years and complete reclamation within 10 years.

The announcement came as a shock to elected officials and civic groups that have wanted to shut down the mine for years, as they were under the impression that the DEC was looking to halt operations at Sand Land and have it undergo a complete reclamation within two years.

When Southampton Town Supervisor Jay Schneiderman learned of the agreement last month, he said he would meet with the town’s legal counsel and Town Board to discuss their next course of action.

The town was recently given the ability to enact the monitoring law as a result of a state bill co-sponsored by Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele Jr. and Senator Kenneth P. LaValle that was signed into law in October. It allows local governments to enact and enforce their own water quality testing laws to have more control over mining operations in their jurisdiction.

“This will be the town’s first attempt in order to bring some consistency, some confidence, and have the necessary oversight that we need in terms of protocols for these operations as they, particularly here on the East End, affect our aquifer,” Board member Christine Scalera said at Tuesday’s meeting. “This is something, I know, the community strongly has been urging us, and we’ve been unable to act until now.”

Groundwater monitoring was a job typically done only by the DEC. As part of the recent settlement, the DEC stated it would implement a water quality testing program conducted by an independent monitor at the Sand Land site. But town officials decided they wanted to operate on their own terms and require a third party to perform the tests.

Under the proposed local law, testing must take place at least twice a year and the report must be prepared by a certified individual from the National Ground Water Association, American Institute of Hydrology, or the American Institute of Professional Geologists. A New York State licensed engineer may also prepare the report if they work closely with a certified individual. The Town Board would then review and approve the submitted reports.

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What about the transfer stations that the Town owns? Are those monitored for ground water contamination? The Town represented that the one in HB is over capacity..
By G.A.Lombardi (545), Hampton Bays on Apr 15, 19 6:26 AM
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