Contamination concerns on Long Island as decades-old chemical drums unearthed at former Grumman site

Chemical drums that date back decades were found buried at the Bethpage Community Park on Long Island.

The 18-acre site was home to the  Grumman Aerospace Corporation. It’s where planes for America’s wars and the Apollo spacecraft were built. 

The land was donated to the Town of Oyster Bay when Grumman left Long Island, but officials say there was never any mention of environmental contamination. For years, Grumman denied it was a dumping ground. 

As of Tuesday, 22 concrete-encased drums have been unearthed. Photos show blue soil from chemicals leaching into the ground. The plume of contamination continues to move south at the rate of about a foot a day. 

"We’re not confident in the fact that this was missed," said interim Department of Environmental Conservation commissioner Sean Mahar. "We are confident in holding them accountable now." 

The DEC is overseeing the cleanup. For their part, a spokesperson for Northrop Grumman says they remain committed to protecting the health and well-being of the community. 

They say the 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 and it’s not uncommon to find drums and other materials underground at remediation sites.

It’s a race against the clock to prevent the toxins from spreading deeper into the aquifer - where Long Island gets its drinking water. The search is expected to continue.