For the past year, environmentalists and neighbors of the Sand Land mine in Bridgehampton have been working to get test wells installed on the property where mining, mulching and composting take place; and just this week, one week before a hearing on the future of the mine, the Suffolk County Department of Health’s Office of Water Resources announced contaminants were found in samples they took from the property in May.
Samples taken from a pool of standing water on the property by personnel of the DEC and then given to employees of the county for testing, were found to have levels of toxic contaminants, including heavy metals and radioactivity.
The DEC believes the pond surface water comes from stormwater runoff, for which there are no established water quality standards. For that reason, the study looked at groundwater effluent limits and found four compounds exceeded those values. They were chlordane –a fertilizer banned in this country several decades ago—aluminum, manganese and iron.
“These contaminants are serious and of grave concern. If it’s in the surface water, it is seeping down into the groundwater,” said Adrienne Esposito, executive director of the Citizens Campaign for the Environment, in a release.
“These results demonstrate that Sand Land is producing and releasing known carcinogens and other toxic materials directly into our groundwater, and any expansion of this facility can only make that contamination worse,” said Group for the East End President Bob DeLuca.
Earlier this year, the owners of the property submitted an application to expand the mine, which would bring it approximately 40 feet closer to the top of the water table. The DEC denied the application in April, but the mine owners are now formally appealing the decision. Next week, on Tuesday, October 20, at 5 p.m., the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation will hold a public hearing on the application at the Bridgehampton Community House at 2357 Montauk Highway in Bridgehampton.