Mayor Don Brudie toured a hazardous waste site in E. Garden City this week with U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regional administrator Judith A. Enck and Rep. Carolyn McCarthy.
The mayor joined federal officials to mark progress on the cleanup of the Old Roosevelt Field contaminated ground water area Superfund site - the current location of Roosevelt Field Mall and Garden City Plaza.
According to the EPA, the Superfund program operates on the principle that polluters should pay for the cleanups, rather than passing the costs to taxpayers.
"When sites are placed on the Superfund list of the most contaminated waste sites, the EPA searches for parties responsible for the contamination and holds them accountable for the costs of investigations and cleanups. Cleanups are only funded by taxpayer dollars when responsible parties cannot be found or are not financially viable," an EPA release states.
Enck said the clean up is "working well." She adds, “The ground water on Long Island is the source of drinking water for a huge population, making it especially important to protect it from contamination."
The "EPA constructed water treatment plant" at the Old Roosevelt Field site in E. Garden City, according to the EPA, was added to the Superfund list in May 2000 after two public drinking water wells at the site were found to be contaminated with the volatile organic compounds, tetrachloroethene and trichloroethene.
The site, used by U.S. military as an airfield prir to World War I, later became a commercial airport until it closed in May 1951.
Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) from Superfund sites have often contaminated ground water. These VOCs can easily evaporate into the air, according to the EPA, and many are known to cause or are suspected of causing cancer.
In 1999, Garden City installed a system to treat the drinking water, EPA officials said. In 2011, the EPA constructed a new ground water treatment system at the site that pulls ground water from underneath the site, treats it to remove contamination and pumps it back into the ground water.
EPA officials said the public water supply is routinely tested by Garden City to ensure compliance with federal and state drinking water standards. The treatment system the mayor and congresswoman visited was constructed with renewable building materials and designed to blend into the surrounding architecture. The cleanup is being funded with federal dollars, according to the EPA.
"Clean water, soil and air are our most precious resources – and if we ruin them, we’ve lost them forever," McCarthy told Patch. "It’s critical that we see the good work that the EPA is doing, especially at this time when funding for the agency is constantly being threatened. We can’t rely solely on local agencies to protect the environment. A contaminated plume of water doesn’t know where the county border is. Smog doesn’t stop at the state border. We need a strong federal Environmental Protection Agency to coordinate and address these regional problems, and provide the expertise and resources that our local agencies just can’t handle on their own."
Others attending the tour include Adrienne Esposito, executive director of the Citizens Campaign for the Environment, and representatives of the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, the Nassau County Departments of Health and Public Works and the Garden City Chamber of Commerce.
For more information about Superfund sites on Long Island, visit: