A press conference was held on July 13 at the Old Noyac School House in Sag Harbor, and hosted by the Noyac Civic Council, in response to a final assessment prepared by the Suffolk County Health Department regarding the Sand Land mine and waste processing facility located in Noyac.
According to Adrienne Esposito, Executive Director for the Citizens Campaign for the Environment, “We are working now to be sure that the Sand Land permit is not renewed in October. Residents are not in imminent danger, however, this area is designated as a special ground water protection area, and if contaminated, as has been discovered, it can spread.”
The disturbing findings of the assessment are based on a test well sampling program which confirmed, “That the mine and its operations had significantly contaminated the area’s underlying groundwater aquifer.”
Following nearly a decade of concerned citizens, environmentalists and elected officials urging for an investigation to be conducted into the possible groundwater contamination, and after a court order, the late 2017 investigation released last week “Identified contamination by toxic heavy metals, nitrates and even radioactivity at levels well above drinking water standards. The contamination was found to have penetrated deeply into the area’s groundwater acquifer, posing a threat to both private drinking water wells near the facility, as well as the region’s long-term drinking water supply.”
When queried as to why it took more than a decade for this issue to come to light, Espositio relayed, “The Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) as the regulatory agency didn’t seem very helpful in wanting to know if this water was contaminated. Thankfully, Suffolk County Health Department (SCHD) became involved, and was denied access to the Sand Land Mine property by the owner. They went to court, it took over a year, but the judge finally granted SCHD access to put in monitoring wells to test the ground water.”
Local leaders in attendance at the July conference include Esposito, as well as NYS Assemblyman Fred Thiele, Suffolk County Legislator Bridget Fleming, Group for the East End President Bob DeLuca, Southampton Town Supervisor Jay Schneiderman, Southampton Town Councilman Tommy John Schiavoni, along with other civic and environmental leaders.
Esposito concluded, “Our objective is to stop the source of the contamination, as this is simply the logical and safe thing to do for the public.”