Governor Kathy Hochul today directed the Department of Environmental Conservation to work with federal, state, and local partners to hold Northrop Grumman accountable for the ongoing cleanup of the Bethpage Community Park after the recent discovery of six, 55-gallon drums in a cordoned-off area beneath the former ballfield. Under strict DEC oversight, these actions continue to advance the comprehensive investigation, containment, and cleanup of the U.S. Navy-Grumman groundwater plume associated with historic operations of Grumman’s Bethpage facility and the U.S. Naval Weapons Industrial Reserve Plant. The encased drums were found during the ongoing cleanup of the ballfield area in the town of Oyster Bay. 

“New York is a national leader when it comes to addressing legacy pollution and we are advancing a massive effort to clean up the Bethpage Community Park and protect the residents of Oyster Bay,” Governor Hochul said. “I am directing DEC to work with partners to enhance cleanup efforts underway to provide New Yorkers with peace of mind while we continue to safeguard their drinking water and hold polluters accountable.” 

At Governor Hochul’s direction, DEC is calling on Northrop Grumman to enhance efforts already underway and implement further cleanup in certain areas likely to be subject to further construction or infrastructure activities. Northrop Grumman previously committed to removing the upper two feet of soil across the ball field and replacing it with clean fill, which would meet cleanup standards for an active sports field.  

As part of the cleanup plan to address PCB-contaminated soil, DEC will also call on Northrop Grumman to dispose of all contaminated soil off-site at a licensed disposal facility rather than using this material as backfill in deep parts of the excavation as identified in an earlier plan. 

To help keep the project on track moving forward, DEC is also calling on Northrop Grumman to develop a detailed schedule with penalties for not adhering to the timelines and scope of work. 

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Basil Seggos said, “We are committed to sustaining New York State’s efforts to fully contain and cleanup the Navy-Grumman groundwater plume. This work is a top priority for New York State and today we stand with Governor Hochul to send a strong message to polluters that they will be held to account for the damage they cause to the environment and our communities.” 

In response to the discovery in late March 2024 of six, 55-gallon drums encased in concrete beneath the ballfield area of Bethpage Community Park, DEC is working with state, federal, and local partners to ensure actions are taken to safely assess the contents of the containers and to develop a plan to remove the drums for appropriate handling and disposal of their contents. The discovery of the drums presents no immediate threat to public health and safety at the site. DEC will update the town and community regarding confirmatory samples taken around the encased drums as information becomes available. Further testing, using ground-penetrating radar, is underway to identify and address any additional underground drums that may be present. Learn more about these efforts on the DEC website.

DEC continues to strictly oversee the cleanup of the Bethpage Community Park in the town of Oyster Bay as part of the State’s ongoing efforts to investigate, contain, and cleanup the Navy-Grumman groundwater plume. This oversight has already led to the successful completion of several cleanup activities, including groundwater monitoring wells, at the park that have removed thousands of pounds of site contaminants from soil and groundwater, removed more than one billion gallons of contaminated groundwater, prevented contaminants from migrating off-site, and has protected the Long Island Sole Source Aquifer system.  

The discovery of the drums in an area of ongoing cleanup in the ball field does not present a threat to public health and safety at the site. Additionally, since 2009, DEC has required the continued operation of a Groundwater Containment System at the park, which has removed more than 2,500 pounds of volatile compounds since its startup. This containment system has effectively prevented contamination from any further continued migration off-site into the Long Island Aquifer System and the downgradient public water supplies. Also, monitoring since 2009 has shown that groundwater quality is improving downgradient of the park, and Town of Oyster Bay residents continue to drink water that meets state and federal drinking water standards. 

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