The Suffolk County Water Authority this week received more than $1.8 million from the U.S. Department of Defense as reimbursement for the costs of cleaning up the contaminants PFOS and PFOA from public wells near Gabreski Airport in Westhampton Beach.
The $1,893,991 payment, secured with the help of U.S. Senator Charles Schumer, will help pay for granular activated carbon treatment systems installed by SCWA to address the contamination. For nearly 30 years, the Department of Defense allowed the chemicals to leach into Long Island’s sole source aquifer by using firefighting foams containing PFOS and PFOA during training exercises at Gabreski Airport.
“We are thrilled that the federal government lived up to its obligation to reimburse SCWA for cleaning up this contamination,” said SCWA Chairman Patrick Halpin. “These funds will directly benefit SCWA customers, and for that, we owe a huge thanks to Senator Schumer, who pushed for this money from start to finish.”
“As I maintained from the very beginning, the chemical contamination at Gabreski Airport was caused by the Department of Defense’s activities and so they needed to foot the bill to provide clean drinking water to impacted homeowners,” Senator Schumer said. “I promised to hold the Department of Defense and Air National Guard accountable for their actions, and I’m extremely pleased they have finally come through.”
The Department of Defense initially promised to reimburse the Authority for remediation costs in 2016, but later reneged on that promise, prompting Senator Schumer and other federal representatives to take action.
SCWA is also expected to be eligible for additional future payments which will be based on costs incurred for PFOS/PFOA remediation in public wells near Gabreski over the next few years.
The Suffolk County Water Authority is an independent public-benefit corporation operating under the authority of the Public Authorities Law of the State of New York. Serving approximately 1.2 million Suffolk County residents, the Authority operates without taxing power on a not-for-profit basis.