2016 whistleblower tip warned of barrels buried at old Grumman property in Bethpage

The DEC said it reviewed the final engineering report for the removal action that the town of Oyster Bay conducted around 2006, several investigations of the area by Northrop Grumman as well as aerial photography from the 1960’s.

Rachel Yonkunas

Apr 18, 2024, 9:20 PM

Updated 35 days ago

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At least 16 chemical drums were found underneath the old Northrop Grumman property in Bethpage Community Park. However, state officials were tipped off to buried drums nearly a decade ago, raising questions about why the drums are just now being discovered.
The former ballfield area in the park used to be an old dumping ground for the Grumman property. It was also the center of a whistleblower report in 2016.
A tipster said he remembered that large drums were discovered at the park in the early 1990’s during excavation work and subsequently reburied. He pointed officials to an area near the skate park and ballfield.
“He thought upwards of 20 to 25 drums,” said Michael Boufis, superintendent of the Bethpage Water District. “It was outside the skate park, that’s where he remembers those drums being. Give or take 20 to 30 feet from where they are finding them now, so he was pretty close.”
Team 12 Investigates obtained the results of the New York Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) investigation into that 2016 tip. The DEC deemed the tip unfounded.
The DEC said it reviewed the final engineering report for the removal action that the town of Oyster Bay conducted around 2006, several investigations of the area by Northrop Grumman as well as aerial photography from the 1960’s.
“It is our conclusion that buried drums do not exist beneath the park. If they did exist, as the tipster seems to suggest, they were likely removed by the town,” a 2016 DEC memo stated.
In 2006, the Town of Oyster Bay excavated a portion of the park due to concerns of PCB contamination when the town was building the new ice rink. The town removed over 173,000 tons of contaminated soil, aircraft parts and approximately 50 crushed steel drums. However, the ice rink is on the opposite end of the park and was not where the whistleblower led state officials.
“Finding these drums proves that we were in the right and they’ve been in the wrong,” said Supervisor Joseph Saladino, of the Town of Oyster Bay. “It is a graveyard of Grumman’s sins in this park. To date, Grumman has not paid back the taxpayers of the town even one dollar for that clean up and that’s unethical and that’s wrong.”
Team 12 Investigates asked the DEC why they never mandated Grumman to do any excavation work to investigate buried drums. A DEC spokesperson said all the drums have been discovered under the former ballfield area, which has been part of Grumman’s remediation plan and closed off to the public.
According to the DEC’s 2016 report, contamination beneath the former ballfield area would be addressed in the future, and since the area is fenced and access is limited, the area was not a concern to the public.
“The investigation prioritized the publicly accessible areas of the park and DEC did not find any direct threat to public health or safety,” a DEC spokesperson said.


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