The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation is investigating claims East Hampton Airport is contributing to groundwater contamination in the Wainscott area and plans to conduct sampling for perfluorinated compounds.
The DEC’s engineering contractor and the Suffolk County Department of Health Services recently met with the airport manager for a site walkover, which was used to identify locations where sampling will be needed, including the areas where foam that contains perfluorinated compounds has been used or stored.
Additional sampling locations were identified based on drainage patterns and storm drain inlets, which would likely have been impacted. This week, DEC contractors are expected to conduct sampling of on-site, non-potable wells, according to DEC spokeswoman Erica Ringwald.
Site characterization work, including the collection of soil samples, installing and sampling monitoring wells, and sampling of drainage basins will begin later this month. The samples that are collected will be sent for laboratory analysis.
Based upon the number of locations, the field program could take three to four weeks, Ringwald said.
After completing the field program, the DEC will assess the data collected and determine if additional sampling is needed to complete the investigation. Once the investigation is concluded, a Site Characterization Report will be prepared, she said. The report is expected to be available by late summer.
The East Hampton Town Board approved a resolution last week at its work session to allow the DEC access to all of the town property at the airport in an effort to comply with the investigation.
The town’s consent includes testing of soil, soil vapor, indoor air, monitoring well installation, and geophysical study at the site, according to the resolution.
The agency’s investigation into PFC contamination at the site is ongoing, according to Ringwald.
The DEC “officially identified” the airport as a potential source of contamination or “P site” in October 2017 after an investigation discovered detections of PFCs in nearby water supply wells, she said.
“In July 2017, the State Department of Health requested that the Suffolk County Department of Health Services sample non-community water supplies south of the East Hampton Airport. The data showed total, combined concentrations of PFCs, which ranged up to 34 parts per trillion,” she said.
The health department subsequently identified 397 properties served by private wells in the survey area, she said.
“Though designated a P site, the airport is not on the Registry of Inactive Hazardous Waste Disposal Sites, and based on the findings of the Site Characterization, a determination will be made as to whether the site should be on the registry,” she said.
Governor Andrew Cuomo created the state’s Water Quality Rapid Response Team to aggressively investigate emerging threats to drinking water in 2016. In June of that year, the DEC mailed surveys to more than 2500 potential users of PFCs, which included select businesses, fire departments, airports, bulk storage facilities, and Department of Defense/military bases in the state, with the purpose of identifying facilities where perflurooctanic acid or perfluorooctane sulfonate may be located, or had formerly been, used, stored, manufactured, disposed of, or released at the sites.
The response team mapped all facilities where affirmative responses were received to assess public or private water supplies within a half mile of the facility. Facilities near these water supplies were prioritized for immediate sampling.
The information that was gathered has guided the state’s focused investigations at specific sites such as East Hampton Airport, Francis S. Gabreski Air National Guard Base in Westhampton Beach, the Hampton Bays Fire Department, and the Suffolk County Firematics Training Facility in Yaphank. All of the sites are located within a half-mile of public or private drinking water sources.