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Jan 29, 2018 12:29 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

In Westhampton, 55 More Private Wells Suspected Of Possible Contamination, Will Be Offered Testing

Members of the Suffolk County Office of Emergency Management distribute bottled water to homeowners with a possibly contaminated well in July of 2016. PRESS FILE
Jan 30, 2018 1:26 PM

Suffolk County will agree to test 55 more private wells for chemical contamination, expanding to the west its search for potential risk to private and public drinking water wells around Francis S. Gabreski Airport in Westhampton.

Fifteen of the 55 private wells have already been tested for the chemicals perfluorooctane sulfonate, or PFOS, and perfluorooctanoic acid, or PFOA, according to Grace Kelly-McGovern, public relations director for the Suffolk County Department of Health Services. Of the seven tests where results have been returned, six of the wells contained traces of the chemicals—including one with amounts above the Environmental Protection Agency’s health advisory level.

Ms. Kelly-McGovern added that the State Department of Environmental Conservation has contacted that homeowner about installing a “point-of-use treatment system” and will provide bottled water in the interim.

The private wells are in an area stretching from the Speonk River to Beaverdam Creek, and from the edge of Moriches Bay past Old Country Road.

Ms. Kelly-McGovern said the county “does not anticipate the need for testing beyond these 55 properties.”

Suffolk County Department of Health Services Environmental Toxicologist Amy Juchatz said that homeowners in the target area must request the tests, as the wells are private property. She said that county officials had “dropped letters, knocked on doors and mailed letters to given mailing addresses” to alert the homeowners to the situation. They have not yet received responses from everyone—a fact she attributes to seasonal residents and a failure to get through to some homeowners.

The testing of private wells in this new area was triggered by the discovery of low levels of PFOS in a public water supply well on Old Country Road in Westhampton in 2014, according to Ms. Kelly-McGovern.

Suffolk County has been testing the public wells four times a year since then, she said, but the EPA has never required the testing of private wells, and only developed its health advisory level of 70 parts per trillion—the threshold at which the amount of chemicals in the water becomes harmful to human health—in May 2016. It was at that point when the county started targeting possibly vulnerable private wells for testing.

The possible contamination of the additional 55 private wells is the latest development in an ongoing investigation by Suffolk County, which started testing private wells around the airport in June 2016. More than 100 private wells were found to be contaminated.

Authorities believe that the chemicals infecting these wells will eventually be traced back to firefighting foam used at the airport property, as well as 1.4-Dioxane, a colorless liquid commonly referred to as dioxane that is associated with industrial greasers, laundry detergent and common household items like soap.

Last month, the Suffolk County Water Authority filed two separate lawsuits in the Eastern District Court of New York against the companies that make these products to try to recover the hundreds of millions of dollars that will be required for cleanup.

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"laundry detergent and common household items like soap".....and how successful will the suit be against some company when you can't identify the brand....
By Hambone (513), New York on Jan 29, 18 4:21 PM
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