The Office of Pollution Control has three major programs, the Toxic and Hazardous Material Storage Program, the Environmental Assessment and Remediation Program and the Swimming Pool Program. The registration, inspection, testing, permitting and closure of storage facilities containing toxic or hazardous liquids is the core responsibility of the Office of Pollution Control (OPC). The clean up of contaminated storm drains, septic systems and leaching pools is completed in the OPC’s Remediation Program. Remediations are triggered when sample analysis indicates a polluted subsurface system. When a sample reveals contamination above the department’s Action Levels (per SOP # 9-95), a notice is sent to the operator or owner that the offending liquid/soil/sludge must be removed and shipped off site for proper disposal.
The OPC inspects industrial sites and commercial establishments to verify compliance with Article 7 (limits storage of toxic/hazardous material) and Article 12 regulations. To make efficient use of limited staff power, a priority ranking system was established, ranking industrial facilities by their respective threat to the groundwater supply. The greatest threats to the county’s drinking water supply, gas stations and dry cleaners, are inspected on a more frequent basis.
For more information on the Registration of Toxic and Hazardous Materials Storage Facilities.
The OPC regulates most public swimming pools in Suffolk County. The office regularly inspects these pools for compliance with New York State and Suffolk County regulations. Plans are reviewed by staff prior to construction of new pools to ensure that pools are built in accordance with applicable codes.
The OPC’s Bureau of Environmental Enforcement is charged with processing legal actions against parties that violate Article 7 and Article 12 of the Suffolk County Sanitary Code.
Bureau of Environmental Engineering
The Bureau of Environmental Engineering reviews plans submitted for the construction of hazardous material storage facilities and public swimming pools. Hazardous material storage facility plans are reviewed for compliance with the Suffolk County Sanitary Code. Swimming Pools are reviewed for compliance with the New York State Sanitary Code. When the design professional demonstrates compliance with the appropriate code, approval to construct is granted. Once the facility has been inspected and shown to be in compliance, a Permit to Operate the facility is granted.
Bureau of Environmental Investigation and Remediation
The Bureau of Environmental Investigation and Remediation is responsible for inspecting all commercial and industrial facilities in Suffolk County for compliance with hazardous material storage and handling regulations. Field staff collect samples from various points at the facility if contamination is suspected. Elevated samples trigger remediation of the systems performed under the supervision of Bureau staff.
The Bureau also inspects more than 400 dry cleaners in operation in the county.
Where violations of the code are noted, Notices of Violation are issued and the facility is reinspected to ensure compliance.
The Bureau also evaluates environmental assessments performed by private consultants at facilities in Suffolk County and requires remediation as needed.
Bureau of Environmental Enforcement
Many facilities that are inspected are found to be in violation of applicable codes. The Office of Pollution Control frequently must employ legal remedies to compel facilities to comply with New York State and Suffolk County Sanitary Codes. The OPC can levy fines, issue Orders on Consent and convenes formal hearings to obtain judgments against facilities that do not voluntarily comply with the office’s enforcement efforts.
Public Swimming Pools
The Office regulates all public swimming pools with the exception of pools at children’s camps and temporary residences. The office inspects more than 400 indoor and outdoor pools for compliance with the State Sanitary Code and Suffolk County Sanitary Code. The office issues violations and initiates enforcement actions as required. When a public health hazard is present, the office closes the pool until the condition is corrected. The office also reviews engineering plans for, and performs construction inspections of, new public swimming pools.
Find out more about Swimming Pool Operating Permit Requirements.
Industrial Inspection Program
Industrial and commercial sites are inspected for compliance with Articles 7 and 12 of the Suffolk County Sanitary Code, the New York State Environmental Conservation Law and the federal (EPA) Underground Injection Control Program. These inspections include evaluations of toxic or hazardous material storage, handling, disposal, and discharge practices. Samples of leaching pools, storm drains and septic systems are routinely obtained for analysis to ensure that the discharges do not contain chemical compounds known to pollute ground and/or surface waters. Augers, bailers, acids and protective gear are utilized in the collection and preservation of samples. The office, under contract to the NYSDEC, inspects, samples and monitors facilities with industrial wastewater discharge (SPDES) permits. This includes over 100 inspections at the 91 permitted facilities, and the investigation of approximately 200 complaints annually.
Petroleum Bulk Storage Program (PBS)
The OPC administers the New York State PBS Program (6 NYCRR Parts 612-614) in Suffolk County. The program was delegated to Suffolk County in 1986. Facilities storing petroleum products are regulated by this program. The Office conducts routine inspections to ensure that storage facilities are properly maintained. These inspections include opening manhole covers, and equipment, sampling monitoring wells and storm drains for spillage or leakage and testing alarm panels. The office reviews engineering plans for new storage facilities and performs construction inspections prior to the issuance of a Permit to Operate. Suffolk County collects and retains all fees and penalties associated with the program.
The OPC reviews clean-up proposals and approves remedial action plans for contaminated properties, leaching pools systems, storm drains and septic systems. Remediation is required when pollutant levels exceed the Health Department’s guidelines. OPC staff oversee and evaluate 200-300 remediations performed at industrial facilities annually. Contaminated properties requiring remedial work come to the attention of the OPC through two sources. The first source is the routine inspections and sampling conducted pursuant to the Industrial Inspections Program. A second source is environmental site assessment reports submitted by private parties, generally associated with property transfers.
Emergency Response Operations
Staff respond to chemical and petroleum spills on an emergency basis and work with representatives of the NYSDEC and the Suffolk County District Attorney’s office as part of the county’s Hazardous Materials Response Team, as required by SOP H-05.
Office of Pollution Control staff investigate complaints from the general public concerning the improper storage, handling and discharge of toxic or hazardous materials, health and safety issues at public swimming pools, and certain indoor air quality complaints. Staff respond, sample as needed and ensure that appropriate action is taken to address the concerns.
Suffolk County has a number of major facilities that by virtue of their size, volume of hazardous material or amount of wastes discharged, make them subject to a higher degree of regulatory attention. Brookhaven National Laboratory, Plum Island Animal Disease Center, Exxon-Mobil, Northville and Conoco-Phillips petroleum terminals, SUNY Stony Brook, and Northport VA Hospital are included in this group. A senior staff member is assigned to manage the major facilities program. Tasks include regulatory inspections, sampling, monitoring, and the review of environmental and engineering reports, with comments provided on the behalf of the county interest.
At the end of 2005, the office received a $60,000 grant from the USEPA to develop a database to provide information for EPA’s Underground Injection Control (UIC) program. Underground injection wells include sanitary pools, floor drains and storm drains where liquids are discharged. The new database will provide a tremendous amount of information to the EPA and assist the OPC in tracking, mapping, and managing this potential source of groundwater pollution. An additional grant for $11,000 was subsequently approved to continue development of the database. Additional funding is being requested to make the data easily accessible to the general public.
Brownfields (Environmental Restoration Program)
Pursuant to Leg. Resolutions 527-1998 and 882-2000, the OPC is actively participating in the Brownfields program for Suffolk County. The office reviews files, schedules field sampling and prepares reports for many of the properties that may be potential Brownfields sites. The OPC initially screened 19 sites and is continually evaluating additional sites that may be potential candidates. The recent amendments to New York State’s Superfund, Voluntary Clean-Up and Brownfields programs enhance the benefits to municipalities. These changes will result in increased participation in the Brownfields/Environmental Restoration Program.