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Apr 1, 2009 10:26 AMPublication: The East Hampton Press

Neighbors worried about water pollution from the 'Pit' next door

Apr 1, 2009 10:26 AM

Residents of Hedges Lane in Wainscott, which is next to the 70-acre former sand mine property north of Montauk Highway known locally as the “pit,” are worried that their groundwater has been contaminated by unknown activities at the site.

For more than a year, neighbors also have opposed a plan to build a new cement plant on the property, and they worry that the project could worsen their water quality.

The topic will be discussed on Saturday, April 4, at the Wainscott Citizens Advisory Committee meeting. An environmental advocate with the Group for the East End, Jenn Hartnagel, will present groundwater maps of the area and discuss the planning review process and how citizens can express their concerns with the pit’s current and future impact on their groundwater supply.

“I’ve heard about some people’s concern that there is contaminated well water,” Ms. Hartnagel said this week, “and the Planning Board should certainly take that into consideration and possibly do a groundwater assessment in the area and on adjacent properties to determine current water quality conditions.”

A cement plant is currently located on the western side of the Wainscott property, but John Tintle, a principal of Wainscott Commercial Center LLC, which owns the pit, wants to tear down the old plant—owned by Suffolk Cement, which is a tenant on the property—and build a new one farther north on a separate parcel at the eastern edge of the pit.

The Planning Board recommended that Mr. Tintle speak to members of the Wainscott CAC about his plans and how he will mitigate their concerns after a preliminary hearing last August, but 
Mr. Tintle has not yet made an appearance at a CAC meeting. He did not return calls seeking comment, and his lawyer, John MacLachlan, said he could not comment on the cement plant proceedings.

Hedges Lane resident Steven Caputo, a vocal opponent of the cement plant proposal, said he recently had his water tested because three of his neighbors on the west side of Hedges Lane, whose backyards are 100 feet from the proposed new plant location in the pit, had to have their wells changed within the last six months, and one other neighbor had to change his well two years ago.

Angel Lupercio is one of those neighbors: After his water began to taste and smell strange, he had it tested. While the Suffolk County Health Department reported that the test results showed the well water to be within drinking water standards, it recommended that he connect to public water when possible—something currently not possible in that location—and continue to perform annual water tests.

John Renos, another neighbor, put in a new well in December 2006 because of high levels of manganese. In the fall of 2006, the levels of manganese went from 0.9 to 7.67 milligrams per liter; the standard for drinking water is 0.3 mg/L, according to the Suffolk County Department of Health. Manganese levels exceeding 5 mg/L are considered untreatable, so a filter system is not sufficient.

Mr. Caputo had his water tested first by a private company, Long Island Analytical Labs of Holbrook; it found the solvent isopropyl toluene at unhealthy levels in his water. The Suffolk County Department of Environmental Quality then performed tests; the department did not find that same solvent in his water so far, but has not finished analyzing all the tests, according to county spokeswoman Grace McGovern.

Ms. Hartnagel said that to make any connections between past and current activities at the pit and its possible contamination of Hedges Lane residents’ well water, “that would take a pretty significant investigation. If you look at a groundwater map, I’m pretty sure the water flows in that direction. If you’re at the pit and you’re dumping stuff, it would flow toward their wells. But contamination could also come from two miles behind the pit.”

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Another filthy, polluting dumpsite gouged out of the land and perpetrated as
"pre-existing". Good luck with stopping this.
By Phanex (83), Southampton on Apr 1, 09 11:57 AM