Long Island

More chemical drums turn up encased in concrete under Long Island park

While excavating after finding the initial layer of barrels, the New York Department of Environmental Conservation said two more layers of barrels were found in Bethpage Community Park. These hadn't been detected by radar, officials said

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More chemical drums were discovered in concrete blocks found buried under ballfields at a Long Island park, remnants of when the land was used for aircraft production, authorities confirmed Wednesday.

The find, which was expected, involved concrete blocks that were initially removed from the excavation area Monday, authorities said. As with the case with the first 16 drums found, the newly discovered drums are being placed in overpack drums and will be sampled for laboratory analysis. No signs of leakage were apparent, officials said.

The other 16 drums each held 55 gallons of chemicals believed to have been left there by Northrup Grumman decades ago. Ground-penetrating radar was brought in to help search the entire 18-acre park, not just the ballfields -- but it wasn't the radar that detected the latest six barrels, according to Oyster Bay Town Supervisor Joseph Saladino.

Saladino says crews only began digging when the town showed a historical aerial photograph (below) that indicated an old sludge pool. That's where they found the new drums. Saladino claims that's proof the radar being used is insufficient.

A historical aerial photograph indicated a sludge pool, which prompted the digging.

The supervisor had said the town believes a dumping pit for chemicals was once used at the location — which, in a somewhat ironic twist, was donated to the town by Grumman in the 1960s to serve as a park. The town now wants every inch of the park to be inspected, and if necessary, cleaned up.

DEC said Grumman will be accountable for the cleanup.

"DEC continues to oversee investigative and cleanup activities at this location to determine the full nature and extent of contamination and the presence of any additional drums buried beneath the site. The discovery and removal of the drums present no immediate threat to public health and safety at the site and DEC is working with its partners at the federal, State, and local level to ensure the protection of public health and the environment," DEC said in a statement. "The drums removed from the site will be disposed of at an appropriately permitted facility equipped to receive the material in accordance with state laws. DEC continues to hold Northrop Grumman accountable for the cleanup of Bethpage Community Park."

Details on the chemicals in the barrels remain unclear.

A spokesperson for Northrop Grumman says the company is working closely with DEC and other stakeholders on ongoing remediation efforts in Bethpage.

"In response to our recent discovery, Northrop Grumman contractors removed a few additional concrete-encased drums from the ground. NYSDEC confirmed the concrete-encased drums showed no visual signs of a release of the drum contents to the environment and present no immediate threat to public health and safety," the company said in a statement. "NYSDEC confirmed that it is not uncommon to find drums and other materials underground at remediation sites.  We are conducting further investigation to determine whether there are additional drums in the park."

"We are working under the direction of NYSDEC and according to NYSDEC-approved health and safety plans," the statement continued. "We remain committed to protecting the health and well-being of the community as we address environmental conditions in Bethpage."

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