HAMPTON BAYS, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — Two public wells for drinking water have been shut down on the East End of Long Island, after tests found contamination from PFCs, or perfluorinated compounds.
As CBS2’s Jennifer McLogan reported, the chemicals may have leeched into the ground from firefighting suppression foam.
“You can smell the chlorine in it,” said Dale Purcell.
Purcell and his family speak for many of their Hampton Bays neighbors.
“We don’t drink the water,” he said.
The Purcells have been loading up on bottled water and drinking from coolers, learning that a plot of their nearby fire district’s land on Montauk Highway may be added to the state superfund list.
Contamination from PFCs has close two drinking water wells.
“It’s going to travel over here,” Purcell said. “You know, it’s just a matter of time.”
Following Yaphank and Westhampton, Hampton Bays is the third Long Island firefighting training site to come under New York State Department of Environmental Conservation scrutiny.
The suspected culprit of the PFCs is firefighting foam – invented in 1902 – that has not been used since 2002. Scientists said chemical contamination leeched into the ground and remains.
“The foam that’s used by firefighters to suppress fire — certain kinds of fires — and that is what has gotten into this groundwater,” said Suffolk County Health Commissioner Dr. James Tomarken.
Suffolk County monitoring wells first detected and notified Hampton Bays of the contamination. The county has 11 wells serving 7,200 commercial and private water accounts.
Hampton Bays immediately closed the two affected wells and has made remediation plans.
Although the compounds are not yet regulated in drinking water, the Environmental Protection Agency said the chemicals can be cancer-causing.
CBS2 asked to speak with volunteer firefighters about using or storing the foam, but was told no one was available to comment Wednesday.
“If you have it in a private well, you shouldn’t be drinking the water,” said Adrienne Esposito of the Citizens Campaign for the Environment. “If those wells can be hooked up to a public water supplier, that would be the best thing –.those public water suppliers can be filtered with carbon filtration.”
It is unclear who would pay for the hookup.
The DEC said it has now listed the two-acre property as a “potential hazardous waste site,” and the state is now proceeding with an investigation.
The Hampton Bays Fire District said it will cooperate, but contends the source of the contamination may not be the firefighting foam.