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Oct 9, 2019 11:01 AMPublication: The Southampton Press

U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand Listens To Groundwater Concerns At The 106th Rescue Wing

Senator Gillibrand at the Francis S. Gabreski airport. RACHEL VALDESPINO
Oct 9, 2019 11:01 AM

On Monday, U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand visited the 106th Rescue Wing, stationed at the Francis S. Gabreski Airport in Westhampton Beach, to listen to concerns from local government officials and military leadership, as well as learn about the base's latest updates.

One topic that seemed to dominate the conversation was the contaminated groundwater surrounding the base, primarily caused by the chemicals PFOS, a type of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS, which have been linked to serious health risks like developmental delays in babies and compromised immune systems.

Ms. Gillibrand, a member of the U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, has been a strong proponent of remediating groundwater that has been contaminated by PFAS throughout the state.

In 2016, the Suffolk County Department of Health Services found PFAS chemicals in drinking water supplies around the airport that came from firefighting foam used for decades during training sessions at the base. The discovery prompted a major cleanup effort that cost the Suffolk County Water Authority millions.

Ms. Gillibrand, in a joint effort with U.S. Senator Charles Schumer, sponsored an amendment to an appropriations bill authorizing the Air Force and the Air National Guard to reimburse the county for its remediation work. The appropriations bill was signed into law last year with the amendment.

It was announced last month that the federal government will refund the water authority $4 million to cover all associated costs, a victory that took the senators several years to achieve.

“We’re talking about legacy pollutions, bad decisions for hundreds of years,” Ms. Gillibrand said to officials at the base Monday. “We have the biggest Superfund site in the history of the county in the Hudson River because [General Electric] polluted with [polychlorinated biphenyl] 100 years ago.”

She continued, “We’re living with that now, and the deal we made with G.E. 10 years ago wasn’t very good, and now we have an administration who won’t make them continue to do cleanup. They’re scott-free even though PCBs are still in the Hudson River. It’s legacy problems, and they’re real. There’s been bad decisions made for decades, generations, and we just have to be the problem solvers at this point; we have to figure it out.”

Officials at the forum asked about other harmful compounds found in New York’s water, like other unnamed PFAS chemicals that could potentially cost the state millions to clean up.

“That’s why the long-term investment in infrastructure is so vital,” Ms. Gillibrand said in response to the many concerns. “We have to get Suffolk County sewered. It has to be a statewide initiative over the next decade. Everybody has to be connected to county water that’s clean and that has a proper filtration system. Our filtration systems are going to be needing more and more development, better and better technology to clean out more and more contaminants as we become aware which ones are carcinogens and which ones are harmful.”

Ms. Gillibrand concluded her visit by meeting local government officials including Suffolk County Legislator Bridget Fleming and Westhampton Beach Village Mayor Maria Moore.

“We need an [Environmental Protection Agency] that actually cares — this current one does not,” the senator said. “So that’s also work in the making, and it’s going to take a lot of effort for a new EPA to care about clean water as a governmental concern. We have a lot of work to do.”

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This is good news that, U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand visited the east end to learn about updates and conversation regarding the contaminated groundwater by the chemicals PFOS, a type of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances. It needs attention and action !

Being a member of the Public Works Committee she should have shown more action two years ago and I thank the county for reaching out to her. Gillibrand and Fleming need to show more action working with the Suffolk County Department ...more
By Hamptonsway (107), Southampton on Oct 9, 19 6:41 PM
Why is this base still open? It's a space shuttle rescue base and we no longer have a space shuttle. Close it and clean it up.
By dfree (818), hampton bays on Oct 10, 19 3:00 AM
The 106th does search and rescue up and down the eastern seaboard...
By knitter (1941), Southampton on Oct 10, 19 5:45 PM
Search and rescue for what? The radar station in Montauk is closed as well as all the Grumman defense plants.

We have 1,000 coast guard stations up and down the east coast, not that they're needed, so why pour more money down this drain?

Close it and clean up after it.
By dfree (818), hampton bays on Oct 12, 19 5:19 PM
Not sure how long you have lived out here, but I feel I should educate you on what the 106th does here on Long Island because your comments suggest your knowledge of the base are wrong or misinformed. Yes, the unit supported the Space Shuttle rescue mission as one of it's many missions sets but not it's sole mission. Now that U.S. manned space flight is in the near future, the unit will once again be involved. As for civilian Search and Rescue, yes we have the Coast Guard strategically located ...more
By BrianM (1), WESTHAMPTON BEACH on Oct 13, 19 9:22 AM
The knee jerk need to pour tax dollars down any sinkhole labeled "military spending" will bankrupt this country. Thousand of miles out at sea? Your grasp of geography is pretty slim, any rescue mission "thousands of miles" is far beyond the range of any aircraft at Westhampton, and in any event are better handled by our larger and better Navy facilities at Norfolk and elsewhere. The manned space missions are now based in the Kazakh region of Russia. That's where our astronauts get rides to the ...more
By dfree (818), hampton bays on Oct 13, 19 2:08 PM
Hooray for female leadership!
By Aeshtron (431), Southampton on Oct 11, 19 8:27 AM
I am surprised Gillibrand knows where Long Island is.
By auntof9 (159), Southampton on Oct 13, 19 10:46 AM
She knows there are big cash donations for her Presidential campaign east of the canal in Hampton Bays. Oops, what Presidential campaign?
By dfree (818), hampton bays on Oct 13, 19 2:12 PM
I have personally seen her twice, once maybe 6 years ago in a Q & A at Guild Hall with one of the 60 Minutes journalists whose name escapes (lives in Sag Harbor), and once in a field in East Hampton 3 summers ago.
By June Bug (2680), SOUTHAMPTON on Oct 13, 19 2:41 PM
gillibrand is an idiot. end of story
By sstorch (49), water milll on Oct 17, 19 8:19 AM
Sometimes the most succinct posts speak the highest truth.
Gillibrand is indeed an idiot. Amen.
By CPalmer (122), Southampton on Oct 19, 19 8:23 PM
Sometimes the simplest posts speak the highest truth.
Gillibrand is indeed an idiot. Amen.
By CPalmer (122), Southampton on Oct 19, 19 8:23 PM