Homeowners who live nearby are in an uproar over a plan by a local mining company to dig a six-acre hole on its property off Springs Fireplace Road. If their fight intensifies, they may get some ammunition, courtesy of Suffolk County.
Officials from the Suffolk County Department of Health Services announced last week a plan to test drinking wells located around the periphery of the proposed mine excavation.
But, they maintain, it is not a reaction to the proposed mine expansion, but rather a routine round of tests.
“This private well survey was not initiated based on a request of the town. The health department initiated this private well survey out of an abundance of caution, based upon the past detections of groundwater contamination at vegetative organic waste sites in Suffolk County, as well as at the East Hampton landfill,” said Grace Kelly-McGovern, director of communications for the SCDHS. “Unlike public water supplies, private wells are not routinely tested. Therefore, this sampling effort is a proactive measure to ensure the quality of the private well water.”
But the town hinted the action by the county may not be mere coincidence.
“East Hampton Town supports this effort to ensure that residents on private wells have safe drinking water. The town has taken action to initiate groundwater monitoring at or near industrial sites, including mines, and the county effort will provide important data,” read a press release attributed to town Supervisor Peter Van Scoyoc.
The State Department of Environmental Conservation has already given a preliminary green light to a proposal by one of the Bistrian family’s mining companies to create a six-acre, 110-foot-deep “lake” in the wooded area on Middle Highway owned by the family. Neighbors said the expansion would threaten their well water and should be disallowed. But the town contends the Bistrian site no longer is protected from municipal code and that the DEC is no longer the sole approving body.
The private well survey includes the area between Three Mile Harbor Road and Accabonac Road, Floyd Street to the south and Copeces Lane to the north. The mine is southeast of the East Hampton landfill entrance on Three Mile Harbor Road and north of Cedar Street. Wells on all four sides are slated for testing.
The DOH will conduct the testing free of charge to homeowners.
Initially, properties closest to the composting operations and the landfill will be sampled beginning the week of September 23. Outreach to all property owners within the entire private well survey area is expected to be conducted over the next 12 to 14 weeks.
Residents who are unsure if they are served by public water may call the Suffolk County Water Authority at 631-698-9500. Residents who have questions about private well water in Suffolk County may contact the SCDHS Office of Water Resources at 631-852-5810.