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Aerospace facility responsible for polluting Long Island water will pay to help clean it up

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Northrop Grumman and the United States Navy will pay Bethpage Water District $49 million to treat groundwater contamination.

Taxpayers have been covering the bulk of the cost for clean drinking water access after decades of pollution from Grumman Aerospace’s Bethpage facility — now Northrop Grumman. The Bethpage Plume is one of Long Island’s worst environmental crises — dangerous chemicals have spawned a four mile long plume, 900 feet deep in local groundwater.

The water district, which serves about 33,000 people, has built advanced treatment systems to keep two dozen chemicals from reaching the taps.

Once approved, the consent judgment filed on Monday will allow the water district to operate their treatment systems, retire debt from the systems’ construction, and create a new water well outside of the plume.

Northrop Grumman will contribute about $29 million. And the Navy, which owned a portion of the old manufacturing site, will provide the remaining $20 million.

This is separate from an unfinalized deal announced by former Governor Andrew Cuomo in 2020 that would require the parties pay $406 million to eliminate the plume altogether.

Sabrina is host and producer of WSHU’s daily podcast After All Things. She also produces the climate podcast Higher Ground and other long-form news and music programs at the station. Sabrina spent two years as a WSHU fellow, working as a reporter and assisting with production of The Full Story.