Affected Homes with Private Wells to Be Connected to Public Water.
Suffolk County, NY - May 16, 2017 - The Suffolk County Department of Health Services received notice on April 26, 2017, that the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) has declared the Suffolk County Firematics Training Facility, located at 676 Pine St. in Yaphank, a Class 2 Superfund Site.
The site, which has served as Suffolk County’s training facility for the volunteer fire service since 1959, used aqueous film forming foam (AFFF) in training activities until May 2016, when the county was notified that chemicals in the foam had been classified as hazardous substances by New York State. The chemicals, perfluorooctane sulfonic acid (PFOS) and perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), are part of a class of chemicals known as perfluorinated compounds (PFCs).
After receiving notification of the hazardous substance designation, the county immediately initiated a groundwater investigation of homes with private wells in the area south of the site and moved to connect 16 homes in the target area to public water at no cost to the property owners.
In February 2017, the county expanded the target area for the private well-survey area and is currently identifying and sampling homes that may rely on private wells for drinking water in the expanded area. The general area of the private well survey is encompassed by Yaphank Avenue south to Old Stump Road; heading east across Wertheim Nature Preserve and Merrick Road; north on Auburn Avenue and along Southaven Park; west on Woodfield Terrace toward Yaphank Avenue. Officials estimate that there are approximately an additional 30 to 35 properties served with private wells in this area.
Owners of properties served by private wells that are located in the survey area are encouraged to call the SCDHS Office of Water Resources at (631) 852-5810 to have the well water tested free of charge if they have not done so already.
Homes with contaminated well water or whose well water is at risk of contamination will be provided access to bottled water for drinking purposes on an interim basis at no charge. Bottled water is recommended for those who depend on private wells for drinking water and whose wells have shown levels of the contaminants of concern at concentrations above the USEPA Health Advisory Level (HAL), and is available for all residents in the affected areas.
The HAL was lowered in 2016 by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (US EPA) when it named PFOS and PFOA as contaminants of emerging concern. The drinking water HAL for PFOS and PFOA is currently 0.07 parts per billion (ppb), [or 70 parts per trillion (ppt)]. Previously, the HAL had been 0.2 ppb and 0.4 ppb for PFOS and PFOA, respectively.
“The HAL was established by the EPA to provide everyone, especially the most sensitive populations -- developing fetuses and infants -- with a margin of protection from exposure to potential contaminants in drinking water, even if that exposure were to occur throughout their lifetime,” said Dr. James Tomarken, Commissioner Suffolk County Department of Health Services. “As protection of public health is our primary concern, we have determined that properties in this area with well water that may be at risk of contamination from these chemicals, above or below the HAL, will be provided access to a source of water of high quality acceptable for drinking.”
Residents connected to public water are not affected, and should not be concerned, as the public water supply is routinely sampled to ensure the quality of the drinking water.
The designation of Firematics as a state superfund site requires Suffolk County to develop a Remedial Investigation (RI) and a Feasibility Study (FS) work plan to be approved by the NYSDEC. Suffolk County will develop and implement a work plan to continue the investigation of the Firematics site. At a minimum, the investigation will include additional groundwater and soil sampling. The results of the investigation will be used to determine appropriate remedial actions to address environmental impacts at the site. The Department will also work with NYSDEC to evaluate potential impacts on the Carmans River and the ecosystem.
More information about PFOS and PFOA and the investigation at the Firematics site can be found on the Suffolk County website: http://suffolkcountyny.gov/health/pfcwaterinfo. This website contains general information about PFOS and PFOA, a “Frequently Asked Question” document and a link to information specific to the Firematics site, including a map of the private well sampling area. This page will be updated periodically as new information becomes available.
For more information about the environmental investigation at the Firematics Site, call Robert Corcoran, NYSDEC at 518-402-9658. Residents who have questions about testing their private well should call Douglas Feldman, SCDHS at 631-852-5810. For general health questions about PFOS or PFOA you can contact the New York State Department of Health at 518-402-7860.