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Mar 27, 2018 5:29 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Additional Homeowners Near Sand Land Offered Free Groundwater Testing

Editor's Note:

An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated that traces of arsenic and lead were found in wells near the Sand Land mine. The 10 wells tested near the site in 2015 were not found to be contaminated with any chemicals--Ed.

Apr 2, 2018 4:34 PM

Suffolk County Health Department officials are offering to test the drinking water wells of more than three dozen private homes in the vicinity of a Noyac sand mine and mulch processing facility for free after questions were raised about the possibility of the facility's operations causing contamination.

Grace Kelly-McGovern, public relations director for the county’s Health Department, said in an email last week that officials are now in the process of contacting homeowners for another round of private well testing, the results of which will be included as part of a larger report on groundwater contamination that is expected to be traced back to Sand Land, the business that is owned by Wainscott Sand and Gravel.

She noted that 37 homeowners will be contacted by her department, or 16 more than officials attempted to reach during a prior round of testing completed in 2016. At that time, only seven of the homeowners agreed to have their wells tested for contaminants at no charge, while 13 did not respond to the offer, and one homeowner refused.

It was not immediately clear how many of the 37 homeowners contacted this time have agreed to have their private wells tested.

While the 2016 testing did not find toxins in the wells, some elevated levels were present in the nearby surface water, tested by the state Department of Environmental Conservation—including some metals, as well as the chemicals chlordane, chloride, and methyl sulfide, and DEET, which is commonly used in insect repellent. The report notes that it wasn't clear if the chemicals originated from the sand mine or another source.

The new offer comes on the heels of the unapproved release of testing data compiled by the Suffolk County Health Department that detected significant contamination in all of the monitoring wells keeping tabs on Sand Land and its operations. The department’s raw data was obtained by local environmentalists through the filing of a Freedom of Information Law request, who also charged that the county was taking too long to share the information obtained in the latest round of testing.

After originally being granted permission to install the monitoring wells, Health Department officials had to sue the owners of Sand Land after they refused to permit the outside testing. A court ordered the testing.

Ms. Kelly-McGovern said this week that the county’s new official report would be coming in “the next several weeks.” An exact date was not provided.

“The department will take every step to ensure that the evaluation is thorough and accurate,” Ms. Kelly-McGovern said.

Robert DeLuca, president of Group for the East End—one of the two environmental groups that obtained the county’s latest testing results via FOIL—explained this week that the 2016 examination did not include enough data to warrant the filing of a proper report. He explained that the private wells picked for testing were selected before officials knew which way the groundwater flowed.

Mr. DeLuca said he expects the county’s finalized report to confirm what he and other environmentalists have suspected from the start: the operation is polluting the aquifer.

“The sample that we have so far obviously demonstrated there is a significant concern on the aquifer,” Mr. DeLuca said, “which is the concern we had all along.”

State Assemblyman Fred Thiele Jr. has also voiced his concerns about the extended wait for the official county report, going as far as to demand its expedited release.

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Have they tested the golf club and the old race track? What happened to all the contaminated soil there???
By knitter (1684), Southampton on Mar 28, 18 8:06 AM
bay street, sag harbor,