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State DEC: Additional chemical drums found at Bethpage Community Park

This brings the total number of drums discovered at the park to 22. Three others were found and removed Monday as well. Sixteen others were removed in April.

Jon Dowding

May 15, 2024, 2:30 AM

Updated 15 days ago

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Three more chemical drums were discovered and removed from under the baseball field at Bethpage Community Park.
This brings the total number of drums discovered at the park to 22. Three others were found and removed Monday as well. Sixteen others were removed in April.
The latest six drums were found in six separate concrete encasements buried underground.
The part of the park where the drums were found was first closed to the public 22 years ago so the cleanup could begin. Bethpage residents like Anthony Ciarniello worry about what else is lurking beneath the surface.
"We bring the kids to this little play area which is OK,” said Anthony. “But who knows what's under here, too?"
Ronny Ciarniello says it’s concerning to see the ongoing work at the park where she brings her grandchildren to play.
"It's distressing and we just hope that something gets done finally after 22 years,” she said.
Last month, crews for Northrop Grumman removed 16 chemical drums buried under the baseball field. Ground penetrating radar didn't detect anything else at the site after last month's discovery.
Oyster Bay Town Supervisor Joseph Saladino and the state Department of Environmental Conservation say aerial photography of the site led them to believe more drums were left to be uncovered.
"Grumman buried their sins in this park,” said Saladino. "Grumman actually told us, 'Oh, we don't think there's anything left.' Well here we are with more drums being found right here just feet away from where we found the others.”
Interim NYSDEC Commissioner Sean Mahar says one of the main questions for Northrop Grumman is how the radar missed this.
"We still have more questions that we are asking of Grumman, but right now the focus has been on just getting these drums out of the ground, characterizing what's in them, and identifying any appropriate next steps,” he said.
None of the drums appear to have leaked and the DEC believes there are no more buried drums. The DEC also says there’s no threat to public health or the water supply.
With the drums removed, Mahar says he hopes all stakeholders are one step closer to their main goal.
"To get this park returned back to the community as quickly as possible,” said Mahar.
In a statement to News 12, Northrop Grumman said:
“We are working closely with the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) and other stakeholders as our ongoing remediation activities in Bethpage continue. In response to our recent discovery, Northrop Grumman contractors removed a few additional concrete-encased drums from the ground. NYSDEC confirmed the concrete-encased drums showed no visual signs of a release of the drum contents to the environment and present no immediate threat to public health and safety. NYSDEC confirmed that it is not uncommon to find drums and other materials underground at remediation sites. We are conducting further investigation to determine whether there are additional drums in the park. We are working under the direction of NYSDEC and according to NYSDEC-approved health and safety plans. We remain committed to protecting the health and well-being of the community as we address environmental conditions in Bethpage.”
The company continues to decline News 12’s invitation for an on camera interview.


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