Newsday: Northrop Grumman knew for decades that chemicals contaminated Bethpage water

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A Newsday investigation revealed that Northrop Grumman knew for decades that its toxic chemicals were contaminating the water of Bethpage neighborhoods.

As News 12 reported, there is a toxic plume under Bethpage where Grumman created, manufactured and tested airplanes and aircraft used in space exploration.   

A nine-month long investigation by Newsday revealed that the company knew, as far back as the mid-1970s, that its toxic chemicals were contaminating the groundwater and that there was the potential for future problems.

Newsday reporters dug up confidential memos, such as one from a December 1976 meeting between state and federal officials quoting someone from the EPA as saying, "Don't drink the water." 

However, according to a Newsday article about the meeting released the next day the then Nassau health commissioner who was in the meeting was quoted as saying, "We don't have any information that the chemicals are harmful in drinking water."

“There were certain periods of time when information was being shared privately -- either to the company or between regulators and the company,” says Newsday reporter Paul LaRocco. “And that information was not represented in the same way publicly and as a result in the opinion of some people that hindered the process to more aggressively address the issue.”

Gov. Andrew Cuomo responded to the report in a statement saying in part, “It's outrageous that for decades the U.S. Navy and Northrop Grumman slow-walked the cleanup of the Navy-Grumman plume, even though they knew its toxic chemicals were contaminating water and potentially endangering residents."

Pamela Carlucci, a resident of the area, says she blames the toxic water for her breast cancer and her 29-year-old son cancers, which led to his death. She says she also watched many friends and neighbors in her Bethpage neighborhood struggle with the same disease.

Bethpage Water District Superintendent Mike Boufis says he's baffled by what he's seeing about the past. He adds that he’s hoping the focus is on the future and the long, expensive cleanup.

Northrop Grumman did issued a statement to Newsday saying in part, "Northrop Grumman remains committed to working with all stakeholders to provide for fact-based, scientifically-sound remediation efforts that advance the cleanup and help protect the community without unnecessary disruption and potential harm."

News 12 reached out to Northrop Grumman and the Navy for a comment but hasn't heard back.

 

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