Former BOMARC Missile Base Update Old Country Road, Westhampton
The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation has notified Suffolk County that the former BOMARC (Boeing Michigan Aeronautical Research Center) Missile Base, located on Old Country Road in Westhampton, is being considered as a potential inactive hazardous waste disposal site. If it is determined that any potential hazardous waste disposed on the property poses a significant threat to public health or the environment the property will be listed on the New York State Registry of Inactive Hazardous Waste Disposal Sites. The BOMARC site, which comprises approximately 186 acres, is under assessment by the NYSDEC based upon the detection of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs).
The BOMARC missile base was operated by the U.S military as one of several BOMARC facilities protecting the east coast from a potential Soviet air attack from 1959 until it was decommissioned in 1964. Fifty-six nuclear-tipped missiles were located at this facility. The missile warheads were fusion-boosted fission nuclear warheads which utilized tritium and required maintenance every 90 days. After decommissioning, the property was turned over to Suffolk County. The County has since utilized the property for storage of automobiles involved in serious accidents, as a law enforcement shooting range, and a vehicle training course for emergency responders, among other uses.
Private Well Survey
The SCDHS initiated a private well survey in December of 2017 in an area generally south of the BOMARC property following a detection of PFOS at 48 parts per trillion (ppt) in a Suffolk County Water Authority (SCWA) Old Country Road public water supply well which is located immediately south of the former BOMARC facility. The public water supply in this area currently meets all existing drinking water standards, as well as proposed maximum contaminant levels for PFOS, PFOA, and 1,4-dioxane.
Fifty-four properties potentially utilizing private well water were identified in the survey area and 41 private well samples have been collected by SCDHS. Two of the private wells had detections of PFOS and/or PFOA at levels exceeding the US EPA health advisory level (HAL) of 70 parts per trillion, and 11 more wells were found to contain PFOS and/or PFOA at levels exceeding the proposed state maximum contaminant level of 10 parts per trillion. New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) has installed treatment systems and continues to monitor the two homes with detections above the HAL. Bottled water is available at no cost to all properties in the survey area that that have had detections of PFOS or PFOA in their private well. Additional guidance from NYSDEC and New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH) is expected as the process of adopting a drinking water standard for PFOS and PFOA progresses. In addition, SCDHS will be conducting another round of private well sampling in the near future.
It should be noted that given the large private well survey area, there are several sites in the area that may be potential sources of PFAS groundwater contamination.
Bottled water continues to be made available to private well owners in the survey area that have had detections of PFOS or PFOA. Any property in this area that is currently using a private well for drinking water should contact the Suffolk County Department of Health Services at 631-852-5810 to have their water tested if they have not already done so. For a map of the private well survey area click here
Pursuant to Resolution 1065-2018 of the Suffolk County Legislature, which required the SCDHS to conduct a preliminary soil and groundwater sampling at the BOMARC property, SCDHS installed 28 profile wells. PFAS were detected in 26 of the 28 profile wells. Four groundwater profile wells had detections above the HAL, with concentrations of PFOS and PFOA, as high as 219 parts per trillion. A total of 13 of the 28 profile wells had detections of PFOS and/or PFOA above the proposed New York State drinking water standards of 10 ppt. Tritium was also detected in a single well up to 1451 pCi/L, which is well below the drinking water maximum contaminant level of 20,000 pCi/L. In response to the detection in this well, four additional groundwater profile wells and two monitoring wells were installed and sampled. There were no detections of tritium in these additional groundwater wells or the permanent monitoring wells. There were also no detections of tritium in the three public water supply wells in proximity to this site.
In addition, the SCDHS performed a limited site evaluation of soil at the BOMARC facility in areas of concern. During this initial assessment, 16 soil samples were analyzed for PCBs. Four surface soil samples exceeded NYSDEC commercial use soil cleanup objectives of one part per million (1 ppm) for PCBs, with levels ranging from 5.6 to 10.5 ppm; no samples exceeded the industrial soil cleanup objective of 25 ppm. Of the four soil samples, three were in the vicinity of the firing range and one was a parking lot used for vehicle storage. In addition, five sediment samples from below-grade structures exceeded NYSDEC cleanup objectives for PCBs.
A second round of PCB surface soil sampling was performed at 67 locations throughout the site, including some of the same locations sampled during the initial round. In this second round of sampling, only one sample exceeded NYSDEC soil cleanup objectives.
Suffolk County health officials have consulted with state health officials regarding the PCB levels, current site use, and precautions being taken at the site. No immediate action is indicated at this time. The County has also begun consultation with the New York State Public Employee Safety and Health Bureau for review and further guidance. County officials will inform the community and users of the BOMARC facility if there are any new developments.
SCDHS is currently preparing a report summarizing the results of the groundwater and soil sampling conducted in accordance with the Suffolk County Legislative Resolution 1065-2018. The report is expected to be released in June, 2020. Suffolk County officials will continue to coordinate with NYSDOH and NYSDEC to discuss additional investigative work as part of the potential Superfund designation.
SCDHS is proposing additional investigation of other potential sources of PFOS and PFOA, that may include non-county owned properties that are also hydraulically upgradient of the private well survey area and therefore, may be related to the contamination detected in some of the private wells.
In an effort to keep the public informed, this website will be updated as new information becomes available.
Contacts for more information
For information about New York State Department of Environmental Conservation’s Superfund Sites, click here.
For information about EPA Health Advisories for PFOA and PFOS in Drinking Water click here.
Residents with general questions about health effects of perfluorinated compounds (PFCs) are advised to call the New York State Department of Health (800) 458-1158 or (518) 402-7860 (Monday - Friday: 8 a.m. - 5 p.m.).
Residents who are unsure if they are served by public water may call the Suffolk County Water Authority at 631-698-9500.
Residents with private wells who have questions about private well water in Suffolk County or who wish to have their wells tested may contact the SCDHS Office of Water Resources at 631-852-5810.
12-19-2019- Press Release Former Westhampton BOMARC Missile Base Being Considered as a Potential New York State Superfund Site.
12-05-2019- Correspondence to Peter A. Scully