After hearing from 100 residents, officials and environmentalists at a meeting on Thursday evening on a toxic plume that runs under Speonk, the Department of Environmental Conservation has agreed to re-classify the plume, allowing for monitoring to take place.
According to Charsleissa King, of the DEC, the DEC has decided to reclassify the plume as a Class C area, which will enable monitoring and other site management activities and pursue remedies as needed within the bounds of its legal authority.
Among the other "activities" will be the development and installation of a monitoring well network and sampling plan to monitor the plume, which the DEC says will help to upgrade a private well survey to identify all groundwater users, as well as provide for vapor sampling that will help develop a plan for necessary future actions should conditions change or new receptors become threatened.
"The DEC further embraces the concept of a working group to facilitate and maintain an ongoing dialogue on this complex issue," said King.
It was a step in the right direction, said Jennifer Hartnagel, an environmentalist with the Group for the East End.
"All and all, I think it was a positive meeting, at least we understand now that they seem to be committed to doing more," she said.
Bob Mozer, a professional hydrogeologist and head of the Speonk Civic Association and a Facebook page dedicated to the Speonk, Westhampton Beach community, agreed that the meeting went better than expected.
He said that while the DEC did not say it would clean-up the plume, it agreed "to change their site classification so that their program will monitor both the soil vapor and groundwater in the area as the plume of contaminated water moves south where it will ultimately discharge to the bay and its tributaries."
Previous to the meeting called by the DEC in response to resident's concerns, the DEC stood by a ruling that stated that it has no plans to clean-up the 10-year-old toxic plume, which source has yet to be found, and that homes in the area that drew water from wells have since been hooked up to public water.
Residents galvanized and earlier this week held a joint meeting to formulate a response to the DEC. During that meeting, Southampton Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst said the town would consider a lawsuit if the DEC did not take action.
Do you think the DEC did the right thing? Comment below.
Let Patch save you time. Get great local stories like this delivered right to your inbox or smartphone every day with our free newsletter. Simple, fast sign-up here.