Senator LaValle, Assemblyman Thiele: Legislature Approves Bill Requiring Monitoring and Enforcement of Mining Operations

Bill Would Help Protect Long Island Sole Source Aquifer.

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NY State Senator Ken LaValle.

Photo by: Office of Senator Ken LaValle.

Long Island, NY - May 10, 2018 - New York State Senator Ken LaValle and Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele, Jr. announced today that the Legislature has given final approval to legislation which authorizes local governments to enact and enforce local laws requiring groundwater monitoring in connection with mining operations. The proposed law (S4812) would apply to local governments in Suffolk County and Nassau County. Both counties draw their drinking water from a state-protected sole source aquifer.
Senator Ken LaValle said, “On Long Island, it is critically important that we monitor groundwater and take strong enforcement actions when it is being negatively affected.  The Sand Land issue highlighted the need for our new legislation to proactively protect our water. Assemblyman Thiele and I worked successfully to have the measure approved by both houses of the legislature, and now, we need the Governor to quickly approve it so we can preserve Long Island’s drinking water for today, and for the future.”
Assemblyman Fred Thiele stated, “The situation at Sand Land in Noyack illustrates the need for this legislation. Years of regulatory neglect resulted in contamination that would more likely be associated with an open dump than a sand mine. The State DEC never monitored the groundwater and failed to protect the public. This is the most sensitive water charge land in the Town of Southampton, east of the Shinnecock Canal. It is a State Special Groundwater Protection Area. Now the groundwater is compromised by contamination.”
Thiele added that the situation at Sand Land is not unique on Long Island. He explained, “A study conducted by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation and Suffolk County Department of Health Services several years ago also demonstrated the significant adverse groundwater impacts associated with mining operations. We must take a proactive approach to groundwater protection. There must be a comprehensive groundwater monitoring program adjacent to every mining site. Routine groundwater sampling and monitoring can help determine if groundwater resources are being impacted and will provide an early warning system for groundwater contamination.”
Specifically, the LaValle-Thiele legislation would authorize the enactment or enforcement of local laws or ordinances requiring the monitoring of groundwater impacts resulting from mining or the reclamation of mines within counties with a population of one million or more which draw their primary source of drinking water for a majority of county residents from a designated sole aquifer.
The legislation will now be transferred to the Governor for consideration.