Newsday: Sec'y of defense vows to look into Bethpage plume

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Secretary of Defense James Mattis has vowed to look into the possible radioactive contamination at the old Grumman plant in Bethpage after a one-on-one meeting with Sen. Chuck Schumer, according to a Newsday/News 12 report. 

The Senate minority leader wants the Navy to report on the use, handling and storage of radioactive materials at the former Navy site. He also wants to ensure the Navy provides financial and technical assistance needed to clean up the toxic plume.

Long Islanders living near the site say they believe it may be the cause of health complications.

Newsday: Mattis to look into Navy use of radioactive materials in Bethpage

"Thirteen years ago, my wife passed away from two bouts of cancer," says Frank Girimonte, who doesn't directly link her death with the plume, but says he's always thought about the possibility of a connection there.

Officials say the plume has plagued Bethpage and the surrounding community for decades. It is the result of containments spilled or dumped into the ground by Grumman employees and the Navy years ago. The issue came into the forefront again last month, after the Bethpage School District announced it detected radioactive materials underground.

"You put it here, it's time for you to come here and fully clean it up," Oyster Bay Supervisor Joseph Saladino said at the time. 

After meeting with Mattis, Schumer said the defense secretary was "focused and concerned."

"We need answers and action to clean up the toxic mess in Bethpage, coming from the former Navy-Grumman site, especially in light of newly discovered radioactive contamination," the senator said.

Last month, the Navy complied with a law passed in 2016 that required a report to be issued on the cleanup process, and the chemicals found in Bethpage. That report did not mention any radioactive materials. Schumer says he now wants the Navy to add an addendum to that report with a focus on radioactive substances. 

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