Hempstead drinking water said to contain high levels of cancer-causing chemicals

The Village of Hempstead's water plant is over a century old and according to officials, its wells have high levels of a probable cancer-causing agent.

The agent is known as 1,4 dioxane. There are also traces of PFAS, commonly called forever chemicals, because they are so difficult to get rid of.

"We don’t want to panic our residents but we want them informed," said Village Mayor Waylyn Hobbs Jr.

Scientists say the chemicals seeped into the groundwater through commercial and industrial sources over time. Now they’re present in all the village’s nine wells.

"This is urgent technology and financial aid is reasonable for them to request," said Adrienne Esposito with Citizens Campaign for the Environment.

The Village has already drafted plans to replace the old water treatment plant to provide cleaner water to tens of thousands of its residents. They’re hoping the federal and state government will reimburse the cost of the more than $50 million project. 

Governor Kathy Hochul's office says for their part, they’ve given Long Island $700 million for clean water, including $72 million for the town of Hempstead, but the town says that was for specific grant projects.

The problem, according to officials, is that the village only has this one main plant. It would have to be shut down to install new equipment, and that would be nearly impossible as there wouldn't be water at all for residents.

Officials say the plan is to break ground by the fall. The project is expected to take 2–5 years and the hope is for the Village to comply with Board of Health standards before that.