Grumman Contamination & The Bethpage Toxic Plume
It was recently uncovered that Grumman, the aerospace and defense technology behemoth once based in Nassau County, Long Island, knew for decades that toxic chemicals from its property were contaminating local groundwater and hid the truth, according to a groundbreaking Newsday investigation.
The company, which holds a once-600 acre site in Bethpage, Long Island, “made public statements that directly contradicted the alarming evidence it held, as it avoided culpability and millions in costs”. Furthermore, government officials knew about the pollution and enabled the company’s behavior.
Newsday launched a nine-month investigation and combed through thousands of pages of records to reveal the secret history of the company’s alleged poisoning of entire communities’ ground water.
Confidential documents “show that the problem could have been addressed more aggressively at many points over the past 45 years. But instead, foot-dragging, resistance and grossly inaccurate projections took hold — not only on the part of the company but also for decades by the state Department of Environmental Conservation, the lead regulatory agency.”
The poisonous “plume” is 4.3 miles long, 2.1 miles wide and as much as 900 feet deep. Moreover, the plume is located in an aquifer that is the only drinking water source for the densely populated Long Island region.
The contaminants in Long Island drinking water in the area contain about two dozen contaminants, some of which cause cancer. According to the report, the most significant danger is the metal degreseaser, trichloroethylene, or TCE, which is present in the ground water at levels thousands of times above New York State drinking standards. Grumman had used TCE to clean aircraft parts at its property for 40 years. Once TCE was known to be spreading from the property, the company mislead the public about its practice of using the dangerous chemical, per Newsday.
The toxic plume has doubled its sized since the mid-1980s and has traveled south from Bethpage, recently crossing below the Southern State Parkway. It continues to move at about a foot a day towards the ecological sensitive Great South Bay.
While New York State has announced a plan to clean the area, near-total eradication of the plume will not come for 110 years under current estimates.
The full health ramifications for Long Island residents is not yet known. However, according to another report by Newsday, an average of more than 18,000 cases of cancer per year occurred on Long Island from 2012 through 2016, per the New York State Department of Health.
Indeed, the media has reported on the high rates of breast cancer among Long Island women for decades. As the New York Times put it in 1992, “[t]o the women of Long Island, it remains a medical mystery that defies their most dogged investigations, even as it claims more and more of their friends and family.”
If you or a loved one believes you have a claim for exposure to contaminated groundwater on Long Island and are interested in legal assistance, please do not hesitate to call our lawyers for a free legal consultation at 212-668-8400.