DEC detects elevated radium levels under Bethpage school

Posted: Updated:
BETHPAGE -

The state Department of Environmental Conservation says elevated levels of radium were detected at three separate sites in the ground beneath Central Boulevard Elementary School in Bethpage.

The Bethpage Union Free School District says the results of the testing at its schools demonstrated no immediate health concerns in any of its schools. The state DEC also says the detections of radium "pose no health concerns for students, staff or visitors to the schools or the neighboring community."

The Bethpage Water District is reiterating that the local drinking supply has not been compromised.

“It’s in the groundwater, it’s not in the drinking water, it’s not in the school,” says Bethpage Water District Superintendent Michael Boufis.

The news comes just months after the Bethpage school district revealed that monitoring wells beneath Bethpage High School yielded similar findings.

Earlier in the day, Sen. Charles Schumer toured the former Grumman naval site with Navy Secretary Richard Spencer. Officials attribute the underground, toxic plume to groundwater contamination that took place at the hands of the U.S. Navy and Grumman in Bethpage during and after World War II.

“My mother always told me, ‘You make a mess, you clean it up.’ That, in a friendly, loving way, I have told the Navy and Grumman,” said Schumer.

Schumer says the Senate has approved more than $300 million in funding that could be used for remediation efforts if it passes the House by December.

“We understand our responsibility, we understand how this is all unfolding, and we're prepared to stand by with what we should do and what's right,” said Spencer.

Despite assurances that there are no health risks, many in the community remain concerned. Dina Senra says she's worried about the school children.

“How are they going to be affected?” asks Senra. “I mean, I don't know. Does it come up from the ground? It’s definitely concerning.”

Antoinette Flores says she's instructed her 5-year-old son Billy not to drink from the school's water fountains.

“I'm not gonna chance it,” she says.

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