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May 1, 2019 10:33 AMPublication: The Southampton Press

Southampton Town Board Holds Public Hearing For Goundwater Monitoring Law For Mines

Bob DeLuca, president of the Group for the East End, speaking to the Southampton Town Board Tuesday night. GREG WEHNER
May 1, 2019 11:05 AM

The Southampton Town Board held a public hearing Tuesday night on a proposed local law to impose groundwater monitoring at all mines within the town.

Representatives for local environmental groups, and for the sand mines located in the town, who were present at the hearing said they supported the legislation but added that the plan needs more work.

“The devil’s in the details with the actual monitoring,” Kevin McAllister, founding president of Sag Harbor-based Defend H2O, said to the board. He urged town officials to add provisions including testing for pesticides and emerging contaminants like PFCs.

Under the proposed law, owners of mining businesses must hire a certified third party to prepare a groundwater monitoring report and submit it to the town for approval before engaging in further mining or mining reclamation activities.

The report would have to include data on the history of the site development and its groundwater, a site survey showing all historical improvements, and the proposed location of three monitoring wells, compliant with the town engineer’s specifications, where the third party would conduct groundwater testing at least twice a year.

“As the Town of Southampton is heavily reliant on the sole-source aquifer, it is imperative that the town ensure all precautions are taken to ensure that any person engaged in mining activity occurring within the town closely monitors any effect it has on our groundwater and is in compliance with state policy and law,” the proposal stated.

Mr. McAllister was one of several people at the meeting who said they thought more details needed to be addressed.

Bob DeLuca, president of the Group for the East End, said that the town should hire its own hydrogeologist and on-site inspector to carry out the program rather than allowing third-party monitoring. He also suggested tougher fines for mine operators who do not comply with the proposed law. The penalty for the first violation would be a maximum of $3,500—Mr. DeLuca said he would like it to start at $7,500.

Stanley Warshaw, vice president of operations at Hampton Sand Corporation in Speonk, defended sand mining at the meeting and suggested that the town and mining companies should work together to solve their problems.

“Sand is a finite item. You live on an island,” he said to the board. “What does sand do? It saves your beaches. It saves your home.”

The Town Board adjourned the hearing until the next regular meeting on May 14, because board member Christine Scalera, the law’s sponsor, was absent from the hearing.

The town’s pursuit of the law came shortly after the State Department of Environmental Conservation entered a settlement agreement with Sand Land, a mine in Noyac, in March that grants additional time to operate the mine and additional land to excavate. It came as a shock to the town, along with other stakeholders who have wanted Sand Land to shut down for years.

Southampton Town is currently involved in a lawsuit against both the DEC and the owners of Sand Land to void the agreement, alongside State Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele Jr., local nonprofits, civic groups and neighbors. At the same time, it is looking to take a more active role in establishing and enforcing guidelines for the operation of mines within its borders.

Local governments have been authorized to enact such a law only since October, when a state bill co-sponsored by Mr. Thiele and Senator Kenneth P. LaValle was signed into law. It allows local governments to enact and enforce their own water quality testing laws to have more control over mining operations in their jurisdiction.

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How about we put monitors on all the golf courses in southampton town. All are located on our aquafiers. How about all the tennis clubs and the lawns near our pristine waters.
Check out Lake Agawam... Take your heads out of the sand...
By knitter (1939), Southampton on May 3, 19 2:07 PM
How dare you suggest that golf courses pollute! How could Bob Deluca host his annual salary benefit at Golf at the Bridge if golf courses were not a benefit to the environment. Golf courses actually save the environment by funding Deluca's $200,000 salary.
By Morty (4), east hampton on May 4, 19 7:41 PM