A network of old and scattered septic systems formerly utilized by the Air National Guard base in Westhampton could soon be removed from the state’s list of hazardous waste disposal sites, according to officials with the State Department of Environmental Conservation.
Located throughout the estimated 70-acre base at Suffolk County’s Francis S. Gabreski Airport off Old Riverhead Road, the 21 “sub-sites” in question feature old buried cesspools, septic tanks, distribution boxes, oil traps and dry wells—none of which is in use, according to the DEC. State officials have determined that the waste disposed of in those structures, which once covered about an acre of land, had contaminated the soil and groundwater beneath them with assorted metals, like silver, and other hazardous substances, such as acetone and benzene.
In 2002, the DEC carried out a remediation plan that removed the pollutants, as well as sludge and some of the septic system structures, and later followed up to determine if additional work was needed to complete the cleaning. A report completed by PEER Consultants, based in Tennessee, in 2012 determined that the hazardous septic system was removed or abandoned, and that no further remediation action was needed.
Before it can remove the property from its registry of hazardous waste disposal sites, the state agency must continue to accept public comments on its plans until Sunday, March 2. If those comments do not present new information, the site will be removed from the list.
Since the pollution from the structures was limited to the soil and groundwater beneath them, the site did not pose a risk to the employees of the base or the surrounding community, which is served by public water, or local wildlife, DEC officials said.
The ANG leases space on the southwest side of the airport from Suffolk County.