Schneiderman Orders Groundwater Testing At Sand Land

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Just a month after the State Department of Environmental Conservation denied a permit that would allow a sand mine to expand in Noyac, Suffolk County has asked its Department of Health Services to test groundwater at the site.

Owned by Wainscott Sand & Gravel Inc., the mine, known locally as “Sand Land,” operates a composting and mulching facility at the Middle Line Highway site in addition to its mining operations. Because of that, County Legislator Jay Schneiderman introduced a bill, which was approved last week, that directs the department to test water for contaminants in the aquifer beneath the mine. The testing will occur within the next three months, and then the county will have two months to put together its data.

Mr. Schneiderman said the testing will help shed light on whether or not the composting and mulching at Sand Land is contaminating drinking water. “The concern being, is this impacting our drinking water? Other similar facilities have had problems with their drinking water,” the legislator said. “[There’s] a wide array of potential contaminants associated with composting.”

A study by the State Department of Environmental Conservation found last year that a residential well, along with several other groundwater monitoring wells in the Horseblock Road area of Yaphank, contained unhealthy levels of different contaminants, believed to have come from the nearby Long Island Compost/Great Gardens composting facility.

Although Mr. Schneiderman said he could not go into the details of the testing—he simply described it as “very extensive”—he said it will be facilitated by and paid for by the county. “We’ll get some data, and then we’ll have a better sense of what’s down the water gradient from the facility,” he said. “Hopefully, nothing is impacting groundwater. It’s fine to assume that nothing’s going on—but it’s better to have data.

“If there [are contaminants], it will probably lead to further testing,” he continued. “I’d think we’d have to cross that bridge when we get there. Let’s hope they don’t find anything unusual. There are a lot of private wells in that area.”

Wainscott Sand & Gravel President John Tintle has previously said that there are currently two groundwater test wells at the mine. He did not return a call seeking comment on the County Legislature’s action this week.

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