More than two months after the Long Island Power Authority began cleaning up the site of a blown ground-level transformer in Sag Harbor, trying to eradicate the presence of banned cancer-causing contaminants found in the 218 gallons of oil spilled, the cleanup is continuing, and LIPA says there is no end date in sight.
According to LIPA spokesman Mark Gross and State Department of Environmental Conservation spokeswoman Lisa King, the oil in the transformer that blew on August 21 in front of the Sag Harbor Gym, causing a power outage to businesses, contained PCBs—cancer-causing chlorinated hydrocarbons that were used in transformers, capacitors and electric motors until they were banned in 1979.
Back in October, after more than a month of soil excavation and the pumping of more than 8,000 gallons of groundwater, the site’s PCB levels were at 0.57 parts per billion, with an end goal of 0.5 parts per billion in “a few weeks.” That was four weeks ago—and the trucks have still been seen pumping as recently as Veterans Day, a small sideline curiosity to some parade-goers.
When asked if LIPA had reached the 0.5 parts per billion threshold, and what the current PCB levels were, Mr. Gross was unable to give a definite number, replying by email: “While the soil in the area has been remediated, we have still found, at times, slight detections in the ground water. We are currently evaluating a number of options and will choose the one that gives us the greatest results with the least impact to the community. Any decision made will be discussed in advance with those customers in the impacted area. We continue to work with the DEC on this cleanup and ensure our customers that there is no threat to the drinking water or public health.”