Groundwater Quality in the Vicinity of the Air National Guard Base in Westhampton
New York State Department of Health Blood Testing Program
The New York State Department of Health is conducting an exposure assessment study in the Westhampton Beach and Quogue areas. The study is seeking to measure the levels of perfluoroctane sulfonic acid (PFOS) and other per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in the blood of year-round residents who have been on public water. The public water supply in this area is currently being treated for these contaminants, though, as described below, PFAS were detected prior to treatment. For more information you can call 518-402-7950 or go to www.health.ny.gov/DrinkingWaterResponse.
On April 25, 2016, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) added PFOS to the state’s list of hazardous substances. Before this time, use of these substances in firefighting foam was not considered to be hazardous. Through monitoring conducted by the Suffolk County Water Authority (SCWA) under a United States Environmental Protection Agency (US EPA) program known as the Unregulated Contaminant Monitoring Rule, PFOS was detected in public supply wells in the vicinity of the New York State Air National Guard Base at Frances S. Gabreski Airport located at Old Riverhead Road in Westhampton Beach.
The results of this sampling were reported to residents in the SCWA 2016 Drinking Water Quality report and to the US EPA. The public water supply is being treated to remove contamination and currently meets all state and federal drinking water standards, as well as the US EPA health advisory level for PFOS and perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA).
In July, 2016, NYSDEC identified the Air National Guard Base, including the former fire training area at the Airport, as a potential Superfund site due to historic use of firefighting foam containing PFOS. NYSDEC initiated an investigation and took groundwater and soil samples at the base, which confirmed that the site is a source of PFOS contamination in the area.
In August, 2016, the Air National Guard notified the Suffolk County Department of Health Services (SCDHS) and the SCWA that it had concluded that a release of PFOS had occurred at the Air National Guard Base and that this, release is a contributor to the contamination of the groundwater in the drinking water supplies in the area.
On September 12, 2016 Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced that the NYSDEC has declared the New York State Air National Guard Base at Gabreski Airport a Class 2 Superfund Site. With this designation, NYSDEC has identified the U.S. Department of Defense, which oversees the site’s operations, as the potentially responsible party for perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS) contamination detected in nearby groundwater supplies.
Private Well Survey - Offer for Free Well Testing and Possible Connection to Public Water
The Suffolk County Department of Health Services (SCDHS) has conducted a private well survey in the vicinity of and downgradient of the New York State Air National Guard Base to help assess the drinking water quality of properties served with private wells. A total of 59 properties have had their private wells sampled. PFOS and PFOA have been detected above the health advisory level in some of these private wells. The private well survey area included properties located south of the LIRR tracks, and East of Beaverdam Creek, Westhampton and West of Quantuck Creek in Westhampton. If you live in this area and have not yet connected to public water we recommend that you contact the SCDHS Office of Water Resources at (631) 852-5810 to schedule a test of your well water for free. Those with homes served by public water do not need to have their water sampled, as the public water supply is routinely tested.
Connecting to Public Water
In November of 2016, the NYSDEC announced that those properties that are either impacted or threatened to be impacted by PFAS contamination will be connected to public water. To date 62 properties have been connected to public water.
Monitoring well data:
The Suffolk County Department of Health Services has installed groundwater monitoring wells (profile wells) in the vicinity of the New York State Air National Guard Base to help determine the nature and extent of groundwater contamination in the area. The groundwater samples were taken from various depths within the groundwater table in order to understand where contamination may be present and the potential risks posed to public and private drinking water supplies. It is important to understand that these samples were not taken from a drinking water supply.
For monitoring well locations and data click here .
Contacts for more information
- For information on the New York State Department of Health blood testing program
- For information on the environmental investigation at the Air National Guard Base
- For general questions about PFOS or PFOA and health, contact New York State Department of Health at 1-518-402-7860.
- For residents who would like to find out if they are served by public water or are interested in connecting to public water, contact the Suffolk County Water Authority at 631-698-9500.
- For information about the quality of public water, contact the Suffolk County Water Authority at 631-698-9500 or go to:http://s1091480.instanturl.net/dwqr2016/2016_DWQR_FINAL_5-31-16.pdf
- Residents who have questions about private well water in Suffolk County or would like to have their wells tested, contact the SCDHS Office of Water Resources at 631-852-5810.
- For information about the Air Force’s response to PFAS, go to:http://www.afcec.af.mil/Home/Environment/Perfluorinated-Compounds/
Press Releases and Notices Related to PFOA & PFOS
07-22-2016 - Water Quality Advisory for Private-Well Owners in Areas of Westhampton
09-12-2016- Governor Cuomo Announces New Actions to Protect Water Quality on Long Island: http://www.governor.ny.gov/news/governor-cuomo-announces-new-actions-protect-water-quality-long-island
10-05-2016 - NYSDEC Public Notice: Inactive Hazardous Waste Disposal Site Classification Notice, Gabreski Air National Guard Base