Schneiderman Wants DEC To Change Speonk Plume Classification


The discovery of additional groundwater contamination in Speonk, near an already documented plume, has sparked a campaign to again reclassify the plume so that the pollution can eventually be cleaned up.

Suffolk County Legislator Jay Schneiderman announced this week in a press release that he wants the State Department of Environmental Conservation to relabel the plume with a more serious classification, one that would require remediation. He also wants the state, which earlier this year had planned to stop monitoring the contamination, known as the Speonk Solvent Plume, to take over the testing of private wells in the area due to what he says is a lack of resources at the Suffolk County Department of Health Services.

Mr. Schneiderman’s request came after a May 1 meeting between the DEC and members of the newly formed Speonk Solvent Working Group, during which it was announced that there is a secondary area of concern in the community.

At this time, it is not clear if that area—near Dock Road in Speonk—is a second plume or an extension of the Speonk Solvent Plume that dates back decades and is estimated to be almost two miles long.

“We have a serious groundwater plume that has potential health effects on Speonk residents, and we need to expand well water testing to ensure residents’ safety,” Mr. Schneiderman said in a prepared statement. “Raising the DEC’s classification of this plume to a Class 2A designation would recognize the threat to private well users and make resources available to mitigate the impacts.”

DEC officials could not be immediately reached for comment.

The Speonk Solvent Plume was discovered in 2001 after an unidentified resident complained that the well water in Speonk tasted odd. The pollution—the source of which has not been determined and, from the looks of things, might never be—was the subject of a massive 16,000-page characterization study commissioned by the DEC and conducted by the Massachusetts-based environmental consulting firm Camp Dresser and McKee.

According to the study, the primary contaminants found in the plume are perchloroethylene, trichloroethene, trichloroethane, carbon tetrachloride and chloroform. Several of the chemicals are metal degreasers, while chloroform is primarily used to make other chemicals.

Mr. Schneiderman is requesting that the DEC implement an Interim Remedial Measures plan, which would make connecting all private well users to public water a priority. He also would like to see a feasibility study that will evaluate potential remediation options for both the plume and the second area of concern.

Currently, the plume is labeled as a Class 4 closed site, which allows for monitoring of the area without plans for remediation. The site earned that classification earlier this year when the DEC reversed a previous decision to take no further action.

Mr. Schneiderman is aiming to have the pollution classified as a Class 2 or Class 2A site, which would “recognize the threat to private well users and make resources available to mitigate the impacts,” according to a letter he sent to DEC officials and dated May 10.

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