Southampton Town Supervisor Says Additional Wells In Speonk Are Contaminated

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Southampton Town Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst confirmed this week that additional private wells in Speonk have tested positive for contaminants, though they have not yet been linked to a documented plume in the area that dates back decades.

Though she could not confirm where in the hamlet the newly contaminated wells have been found, or how many have tested positive, Ms. Throne-Holst said they contain chemicals similar to those found in the Speonk Solvent Plume, an estimated two-mile-long swath of contamination that was discovered in 2001 but which dates back decades.

The supervisor also noted that the Speonk Solvent Plume Working Group, a new community panel on which she sits and which had its first meeting with State Department of Environmental Conservation officials last Thursday, May 2, is asking the state to conduct a full investigation in light of the recent findings. Created in the spring, the group features a mix of civic leaders and town officials, and is charged with making sure the state continues to monitor the pollution and discuss possible remediation options. The DEC had originally planned to stop monitoring the plume but changed course after community residents and elected officials demanded that they do so.

“We are concerned about that area,” Ms. Throne-Holst said, referring to the wells that recently tested positive. “We would like a full understanding of the area that has been established there to see if it rises to the level of a plume.”

She said on Tuesday afternoon that the town is working to notify residents in the area that their well water might be contaminated, and urging them to make arrangements so they can be placed on public water.

DEC officials, who did not immediately return calls on Wednesday, have previously stated that all of those in the path of the plume are now on public water.

Bob Mozer, a member of the working group who also serves as president of the Speonk-Remsenburg Civic Association, declined to discuss Ms. Throne-Holst’s comments on Wednesday morning. He would only say that new information is being compiled by the new group and will soon be posted on the town website, www.Southamptontownny.gov.

The Speonk Solvent Plume Working Group, which is made up of more than a dozen officials—including civic leaders Hank Beck and Mr. Mozer, local hydrogeologists Stephanie Davis and Richard Baldwin, and Southampton Town officials—met with DEC officials last Thursday at the Westhampton Free Library. Their meeting focused on how the state would continue to monitor the plume and possible remediation options. A source for the plume, which contains a mix of various cleaning chemicals and metal degreasers, has never been found. State officials have not committed to cleaning the contamination, which is expected to cost millions if ever pursued.

Mr. Mozer told members of his organization—who met immediately after the DEC meeting last week—that the inaugural meeting went well and that members hope to meet with the state once a month in the future.

Mr. Baldwin said community members made it clear to the DEC that they do not intend the let the state ignore the plume. He added that the new group is working on ways to keep the community informed about future happenings on the town website. There have also been talks, Mr. Baldwin said, of making future meetings open to the public.

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