Health Services

Groundwater Quality in the Vicinity of the Yaphank Avenue, Yaphank

Updated 4-16-18

At the request of Suffolk County, the Suffolk County Water Authority has connected additional homes that had relied on private wells further south and east of the Suffolk County Fire Training Center (also known as Firematics), to public water. Suffolk County offered connection at no cost to an additional 32 properties. A total of 45 properties have been connected to public water. Connections to public water have been completed for all properties that accepted the County’s offer. Several structures on the federally owned Wertheim National Wildlife Refuge that are not in the vicinity of a water main have been equipped with point of entry water treatment systems at no charge to the federal government.

The county has executed an Order on Consent with the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) which commits the County to address the contamination of the Fire Training site. The Order on Consent requires the county to prepare a Citizen Participation Plan, conduct a remedial investigation of the site and develop a remedial work plan. The Citizen’s Participation Plan and a Remedial Investigation /Feasibility Study Work Plan have been developed and approved by the NYSDEC, and the county has begun to perform the Remedial Investigation. Results of the investigation will be used to develop cleanup alternatives. The public will have the opportunity to comment on the proposed remedial plan, which will be developed by the NYSDEC.

A repository for documents related to the Fire Training Center has been established at the Longwood Public Library, 800 Middle Country Road in Middle Island (631-924-6400).


Background

On April 25, 2016, NYSDEC added perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS) and perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) to the state’s list of hazardous substances. Before this time, use of these substances in firefighting foam was not considered to be hazardous. The Suffolk County Department of Health Services (SCDHS) began sampling private wells in the vicinity of Yaphank Avenue in July of 2016 because of past use of firefighting foam for training purposes which may have contained PFOS and PFOA. Those samples were analyzed by New York State Department of Health’s laboratory for per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) and results showed that PFOS and PFOA were present in some of the private wells in the vicinity of the site. In October, 2016, the County Legislature authorized funding to connect homes in the immediate area to the public water system to ensure that they have safe drinking water.

In April 2017, Suffolk County was notified by the NYSDEC that the Fire Training Center property had been determined to be a Class 2 State Superfund Site (see below for notice). This determination was based upon the detection of the PFOS and PFOA in groundwater as well as nearby drinking water supplies. Suffolk County is working to implement the NYSDEC requirements to investigate and remediate the site.

Suffolk County has been working with the Suffolk County Water Authority (SCWA) to connect impacted homes and other facilities to public water at no cost to the occupants. As of March 2018, 45 properties have been connected to public water.

SCDHS will update this website as new information becomes available.

For more information about PFOS and PFOA:


Private well survey

SCDHS conducted a survey of well water quality in an area of Suffolk Avenue/Yaphank Avenue, in Yaphank. PFAS have been detected in some private wells in this area.

The general area of the private well survey is encompassed by Yaphank Avenue south to Old Stump Road; heading east across Wertheim Nature Preserve and Merrick Road; north on Auburn Avenue; east and along Southaven Park; west on Woodfield Terrace toward Yaphank Avenue. For a map of the updated private well survey area click here. Homes and other facilities served by public water do not need to have their water sampled, as the public water supply is routinely tested.

It is possible that some homes and other facilities may exist which have not been identified in the survey area. Owners of property served with a private well that is located in the private well survey area that has not been sampled, are encouraged to call the SCDHS Office of Water Resources at (631) 852-5810 to have the well water tested free of charge.


Connection to Public Water

Suffolk County is committed to connecting affected homes and other facilities in the area to public water at no cost to occupants for this connection. SCDHS entered into an agreement with the Suffolk County Water Authority (SCWA) to connect eligible residents to public water. As of March 2018, 45 properties have been connected to public water. Three structures on Wertheim National Wildlife refuge have been equipped with point of entry treatment systems due to absence of a water main on the property.


Groundwater Investigation

In addition to sampling private wells, SCDHS has initiated an investigation to help determine the nature and extent of groundwater contamination in the area. Groundwater monitoring wells were initially installed along Yaphank Avenue in the vicinity of the Suffolk County Fire Training Center. Monitoring wells have also been installed further south and east of the Fire Training Center. Groundwater samples were taken from various depths within the groundwater table in order to delineate where contamination may be present and the potential risks posed to private drinking water supplies.

To date, 10 existing and 34 newly installed groundwater monitoring wells have been sampled. An additional well was installed to determine the lithology of the aquifer in the area (e.g. the geology and soil conditions). Many of the groundwater monitoring wells have shown detections of PFOS and PFOA above the health advisory level. It is important to understand that these samples were not taken from a drinking water supply. For a map showing the location of the monitoring wells and a table of the most recent results, click here.


Onsite Investigation

An onsite investigation of the Fire Training Center began in December 2017 following NYSDEC approval of Suffolk County’s Remedial Investigation / Feasibility Study Work Plan. Field activities are anticipated to last through May 2018. Following completion of field activities, a report which details the results of the investigation will be issued after approval by the NYSDEC. The investigation results will be used to develop a Feasibility Study which will examine remedial options for the site. The Feasibility Study will be used by the NYSDEC to develop a Proposed Remedial Action Plan (PRAP). The public will have the opportunity to review and comment on the PRAP. After considering public comments, the final remedy will be detailed in a Record of Decision (ROD) published by the NYSDEC.

For a copy of the approved Remedial Investigation / Feasibility Study Work Plan, click here. For a copy of the Fact Sheet prepared by the NYSDEC for this investigation, click here.


Carmans River

The County is in the process of sampling water and aquatic life present in the Carmans River to determine if they have been impacted by PFOA or PFOS.


Contacts for more information

  • Fire Training Center Document Repository: Longwood Public Library, 800 Middle Country Road in Middle Island (631-924-6400).
  • For information on the environmental investigation at the Fire training Center
  • For general questions about PFOS or PFOA and health, contact New York State Department of Health at 1-518-402-7860.
  • For residents who would like to find out if they are served by public water or are interested in connecting to public water, contact the Suffolk County Water Authority at 631-698-9500.
  • For information about the quality of public water, contact the Suffolk County Water Authority at 631-698-9500 or go to http://s1091480.instanturl.net/dwqr2016/water-quality-report-2016-scwa_v1.html
  • Residents who have questions about private well water in Suffolk County or would like to have their wells tested, contact the SCDHS Office of Water Resources at 631-852-5810.

Press Releases and Notices Related to Firematics Site

12-17- NYSDEC Fact Sheet “Investigation to Begin at State Superfund Site”

05-16-17- SCDHS News Release Providing Notice of New York State’s Determination of Firematics Facility in Yaphank an Inactive Hazardous Waste Disposal Site

05-16-17- Letter to Residents in Vicinity of Firematics Facility Providing an Update of the Status of the Site

05-16-17- NYSDEC Public Notice of Suffolk County Firematics Inactive Hazardous Waste Disposal Site Classification

04-26-17- Correspondence to Peter A. Scully, Suffolk County Deputy County Executive, from Kelly Lewandowski, NYSDEC providing notice of Class 2 State Superfund listing.

09-27-16: SCDHS News Release Water Quality Advisory for Private-Well owners in Area of Yaphank Avenue