Sen. Schumer, Navy official talk Grumman toxic plume cleanup

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BETHPAGE -

United States Sen. Charles Schumer toured the former Grumman naval site in Bethpage Friday with Navy Secretary Richard Spencer and local water department officials.

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.'" said Schumer, the Senate's minority leader. "That, in a friendly, loving way, I have told the Navy and Grumman."

Schumer said the Senate has approved more than $300 million in funding that could be used for remediation efforts if it passes the House by December. A plan to fully deal with the issue will be submitted next summer.

Spencer is the first Navy secretary to visit the former Grumman site, even though the underwater contaminants were first discovered in the mid-1970s. Schumer called it a good sign and Spencer said it's a public recognition.

"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," Spencer said.

But residents in Bethpage say they've heard about remediation for years and want to see action from the government and Navy.

"They should pay for it. It shouldn't be on the residents," Dina Senra said.

"My message to them is, 'Clean it like you're going to be drinking the water,'" said Frank Pizzuto, also of Bethpage.

Schumer specifically named U.S. Reps. Peter King and Tom Suozzi as potential partners in ensuring that the necessary funding is approved in the House. News 12 reached out to both congressmen but did not immediately hear back.

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