Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Beaver Dam Creek Water Quality Group

Some action (and frustration) at meeting
Beaver Dam Creek group meets for third time about plume

Patchogue Advance, 11 December 2008


The third meeting of the Beaver Dam Creek Water Quality group, which took place Dec. 5 with the town to address the leachate plume emanating from the landfill, nailed down some specific actions. The next; meeting will take place on Jan. 23.

Fifty-one people with wells in the path of the plume have been identified, said Councilwoman Connie Kepert (4th District), who is chairing the group. "Most people have (Suffolk County Water Authority) water (But) we're giving it (free) to anyone in the path of the plume. SCWA is knocking on doors to see if they're interested and if they're interested, they'll be hooked up. That is our first responsibility, to protect public health.

"The next is to protect the environment. That's a more difficult prospect" Kepert added. "Surely this has taken place in other towns and I want (Brookhaven Town) to look at best management practices elsewhere. I've asked for a report on what could be done.

"I thought the most alarming thing is that there are 51 wells that are being impacted by the plume;" said Adrienne Esposito, executive director of Citizens Campaign for the Environment, who attended the meeting. "They identified 21 southeast of the landfill in one section and then 30 south of Beaver Dam Road. The search for the monitoring wells was supposed to have begun. At the meeting we heard it would start mid-December. This is the cash cow for the town and they're afraid of any impact on that."

Kepelt said there were 27 monitoring wells at the perimeter. Robert Waters, Suffolk County Department of Health supervisor of Bureau of Marine Resources and principal author of the July Beaver Dam Creek report, said the town presented a plan via consultants. "They followed through my recommendations to locate some of the old wells to continue monitoring and come up with a work plan to characterize the extent of the plume." Waters said. "They're going to increase sampling in Beaver Dam Creek, survey and rehabilitate the existing monitoring wells, monitor them, then develop a work plan of results of the samplings. The end product will be a plume characterization report, that is, where is it, what depth is it at, that's what we asked for."

Waters said SCDH is going door to door to sample the private wells on 50 parcels. "We've sampled six and knocked on a few more doors," he said. "Some of those wells are on vacant land. Folks we can't get in touch with, we're sending letters. We're leaving notes in doors now (to contact us). SCDH agreed to do the lab samples for the wells."

Tom Williams, vice president of the Post-Morrow Foundation, said he was being hopeful. "They said there will be a full study and plan (to address the leachate plume) the end of March."

But the meeting wasn't without its frustrations.

"The reason we had the meeting on Dec. 5 is that the town was supposed to have gone out to look for the wells and have some data on those closest to the landfill and they did neither of these," said Brookhaven hamlet resident Marty Van Lith. "That fell off the charts." Van Lith also commented there seemed to be no real concern on the consultants' part. "They use words 'may intersect' and 'potential of leachate' and 'suggests.' There is a constant effort to divert the topic from leachate to other sources of contamination. The biggest disappointment is that they said, 'We've known about the plume and ammonia in surface water contamination in the 1990's. So we asked, 'Why didn't you do anything about it?' Their answer was they filed a report in the library."

"Shouldn't someone have been alerted?" Van Lith asked.

Van Lith said Post-Morrow and the local groups requested the town utilize an unbiased consultant from the Environmental Protection Agency. "They (the town) said, 'All of this stuff is reviewed by this agency and that agency.' Well, they weren't notifying anybody."

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