Suffolk Legislature grills health chief over groundwater testing

Environmentalists say staffing shortages and testing quotas at the county's Health Department are hampering the testing program and putting people in jeopardy.

Environmentalists say staffing shortages and testing quotas at the county's Health Department are hampering the testing program and putting people in jeopardy. (7/26/16)

HAUPPAUGE - At what was supposed to be his reappointment, Suffolk Health Commissioner Dr. James Tomarken was grilled Tuesday by members of the Legislature about the county's groundwater testing program.

Environmentalists say staffing shortages and testing quotas at the county's Health Department are hampering the testing program and putting people in jeopardy.

Adrienne Esposito, of the Citizen Campaign for the Environment, says there is a restriction on the amount of water samples that are taken by the Health Department each week because of the "lack of chemists at the laboratory to analyze the data."

As News 12 reported Monday, elevated levels of contaminants were found in 13 public water wells in Westhampton.  

Dr. Tomarken says he has sufficient staff for now, but is asking for another chemist at the lab next year. He admits priority cases take precedence.

"Nobody is in danger of any problems from their drinking water in terms of the number of samples we have to process," says Dr. Tomarken.

The water testing results for Westhampton should be in by Friday.

 

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