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Navy, N.Y. Reach Bethpage Plume Clean-Up Agreement

A map of the Bethpage plume.
New York State Department of Environmental Conservation
A map of the Bethpage plume.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced Monday an agreement with the U.S. Navy and aerospace company Northrop Grumman to advance the cleanup and containment of a groundwater plume in Bethpage, Long Island.

The 4.3 miles-long toxic plume, which contains multiple carcinogens, has spread from the former Grunman weapons manufacturing facility in Bethpage for over four decades. The facility built fighter jets for the Navy during the Vietnam War. Chemicals used were dumped and have leaked into the groundwater, slowly traveling south toward private drinking wells and the Great South Bay.


Under the agreement, the Navy and Northrop Grunman will build a network of extraction wells to hydraulically contain the plume. Grunman will also pay damages of $104.4 million to the state to be used for cleanup and water protection projects associated with the plume.


Elected officials and environmentalists celebrated the agreement as a historic milestone, marking the largest settlement of its kind in state history and the cleanup of the largest plume to threaten New York water quality. 


"For far too long, communities from Bethpage to Massapequa were left in the lurch as the plume metastasized, threatening more and more communities, while the Navy and Grumman failed to take aggressive action,” said U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY), who first called for this action over 12 years ago. “I want to applaud New York State for its leadership, and local leaders and water districts for their relentless advocacy and partnership.”


Local elected officials also praised the Bethpage and South Farmingdale water districts, who they say deserve compensation for shouldering the burden of the pollution.