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Nov 28, 2017 5:07 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Hampton Bays Fire Department Could Pay If Contamination Of Water Wells Is Traced To Firehouse Property

Janice Landis, president of the Hampton Bays Civic Association poses questions to members of the DEC. VALERIE GORDON
Nov 30, 2017 10:29 AM

The Hampton Bays Fire Department may be required to pay $100,000 in maintenance costs every two years for a new carbon filtration system if they are found to be responsible for the contamination of two drinking water wells used by the hamlet’s municipal water system.

State Department of Environmental Conservation officials announced at the Hampton Bays Civic Association meeting on Monday that the fire department is under investigation by the DEC after routine testing of the Hampton Bays Water District’s wells located between 100 and 150 yards of the fire department’s main firehouse on Montauk Highway detected traces of two unregulated chemicals found in firefighting foam formerly used to put out gasoline fires.

The HBWD shut down the two wells over the past year after the two chemicals—perfluorooctane sulfonate, or PFOS, and perfluorooctanoic acid, or PFOA—were found. Further testing revealed that the water contained 0.073 parts per billion, or ppb, which is “slightly” more than the Environmental Protection Agency’s limit of 0.07 ppb, according to Robert King, superintendent of the water district and also a commissioner with the Hampton Bays Fire Department. Mr. King did not attend Monday’s meeting.

The DEC has suggested that the contamination likely will be traced to firefighting foam used during training exercises at the hamlet’s Montauk Highway firehouse. The Hampton Bays Fire Department is currently the only site being investigated at this time, according to Brian Jankauskas, an environmental engineer with the DEC.

HBWD customers are using water provided by nine other wells that presently meet U.S. Environmental Protection Agency standards for PFOS and PFOA, according to the district.

The Hampton Bays Fire District’s attorney, Stanley Orzechowski, was not present at Monday’s meeting but said in a previous statement that the department would cooperate with the DEC but also would hire its own investigators to probe the 2-acre property.

If found to be the source of the contamination, the fire department property could be added to a state Superfund list—described as any land in the United States that has been contaminated by hazardous waste and poses risks to human health or the environment, Mr. Jankauskas said.

None of fire district's four fire commissioners returned phone calls on Tuesday.

A carbon filtration system will be installed on the two contaminated wells by next spring. It is estimated to cost $1.2 million upfront and approximately $100,000 every two years afterward for maintenance costs to replace the granular activated carbon filters, for which the Hampton Bays Fire District would be responsible for purchasing if found responsible.

Assistant Water District Superintendent James Warner confirmed at Monday’s meeting that the majority of the $1.2 million will be covered by a state grant of $720,000, and that the remaining balance would be covered by reserved settlement money from a previous lawsuit after MTBE, a gasoline additive, was found in the hamlet’s aquifer approximately 10 years ago.

As of now, the two wells will be the only wells out of the hamlet’s 11 that are slated to get the costly filtration system, Mr. Warner said. He explained that the system will remain in place for as long as it is needed, adding that “if it takes two years, they will be in place for two years, or if it takes 20 years, they’ll be there for 20 years.”

Once the filtration system is in place the wells will be tested monthly for both PFOA and PFOS. He confirmed that once complete, the system will remove “100 percent” of the contaminants.

It is unknown at this time how long the two contaminated wells will be out of commission, but State Department of Health employee Steven Karpinski confirmed that “the exposure has been ceased.”

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May God help whoever has to deal with people like that. Civil servants should WANT term limits.
By SlimeAlive (1181), Southampton on Nov 28, 17 5:25 PM
So, the Fire Department was using Aqueous Film Forming Foam, a chemical that was not only legal for them to use,but the County kept a “Foam Bank” at Gabreski. And now the Fire Department is on the hook? That F*cking S*cks
By Draggerman (955), Southampton on Nov 28, 17 9:28 PM
1 member liked this comment
No no no you taxpayers will be paying. The foam has to be stored correctly. It can not be stored on the ground it will pollute the groundwater. Some of those guys in the HB firehouse are only capable of storing beer in their guts
By chief1 (2800), southampton on Nov 29, 17 8:37 AM
It can’t be what?

It comes in sealed plastic 5 gallon jugs.

By Draggerman (955), Southampton on Nov 29, 17 6:50 PM
So what Hampton Bays Fire Department is flush with money. This is a drop in the bucket
By bigblue84 (89), Hampton Bays on Nov 29, 17 1:11 PM
Mr Warner should tell the public his boss is living it up in Florida, along with the others!!! TIME TO CLEAN HOUSE!!
By Bugal (14), Hampton Bays on Nov 29, 17 5:18 PM
Yes it's stored in containers but these clowns didn't store it correctly. It's a joke that water authority has every employee related to another. Ironically the same guys at the water authority are in the fire house. An incestuous mess.
By chief1 (2800), southampton on Nov 29, 17 9:13 PM
Interesting that the HBFD had a commissioner named Robert King and the Water District also had a Robert King! One and the same!
By el kabong (2), Hampton Bays on Nov 29, 17 9:44 PM
Isn't that a conflict? And how can 1 person effectively do 2 jobs? If you are in both jobs, you think you wouldn't let contaminants affect the water...
By Marrrmin (17), Hampton bays on Dec 2, 17 11:28 AM
These products were approved by the government at the time. Still being used by departments now. Airports still use it.
The storage shouldn't be a problem as it is in plastic containers.
By knitter (1941), Southampton on Nov 30, 17 8:37 AM
bigblue84, the HB FD is "flush" with taxpayers' money and the taxpayers will be on the hook for the clean up and honestly, it didn't seem like the FD cared.
By HB Proud (889), Hampton Bays on Nov 30, 17 9:59 AM
What a crock of S***. The HB water authority conducted a test based on the dumb EPA water quality data. The limit of the chemical compound that is used in fire fighting foam is 70 parts per trillion. The two failing tests were 72 and 79 parts per trillion. The Suffolk county health department official who attended the recent HB Civic Association meeting said no one gets sick from these small amounts of the material. The only reported health problems were reported when people worked with the manufacture ...more
By Ernie (88), Hampton Bays on Nov 30, 17 12:35 PM
1 member liked this comment
It is time for Southampton Town to grow up and realize the problems. It is as if the story is made for a movie.

HB Water District needs to be looked at for an integration with the Suffolk County Water Authority. There is no need to have a HBWD.

Clearly something is not right with the Supernatant also being a Commissioner of HBFD. There is double liability. If either Department along with King had common sense, this would have been stopped years ago. Both HBFD along with the ...more
By ZGerry (50), Hamptons on Dec 1, 17 10:20 PM