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Source: 27east

Elevated Levels Of Chemical Found In Public Well In Montauk

BY VIRGINIA GARRISON

Posted: March 15, 2017
Originally Published: March 14, 2017

Montauk was an outlier—the only place on the South Fork—where elevated levels of the contaminant 1,4 dioxane have been detected, according to a recently published map showing high concentrations of the chemical in some drinking water supplies in western Suffolk County and Nassau County.

The Environmental Protection Agency considers 1,4 dioxane “likely to be carcinogenic to humans.” A synthetic chemical, it was formerly used as a solvent, stabilizer and degreaser, among other things, and is still used in cosmetics, varnishes and other products. The chemical is found in groundwater throughout the country and is highly mobile and does not biodegrade easily.

Considered a contaminant of “emerging concern,” 1,4 dioxane is not yet subject to specific federal drinking water standards, although the EPA uses a benchmark of 0.35 micrograms per liter as a cancer risk guideline.

One Suffolk County Water Authority well field in Montauk tested at 1.43 micrograms per liter, about four times the EPA benchmark. Other nearby well fields showed virtually no trace of the chemical. According to the water authority, the well field with relatively high levels of 1,4 dioxane is just east of the Montauk transfer station.

Representatives of the water authority, the Suffolk County Department of Health and the State Department of Environmental Conservation said they were reluctant to speculate on why a well in Montauk, which is arguably the least populated region of all those tested on the South Fork, would show a relatively high level of the chemical. Montauk’s population of roughly 3,000 year-round residents draws its public water from 14 water authority wells in the hamlet, as well as from wells to the west in East Hampton Town.

Starting in April in Central Islip, where the presence of the contaminant is acute, the water authority is piloting a new system for removing 1,4 dioxane from drinking water that uses a process known as advanced oxidation.

Citizens Campaign for the Environment, which released the recent map showing dioxane test results Long Island-wide, is advocating for a statewide standard for 1,4 dioxane based on the EPA’s cancer risk guideline of 0.35 micrograms per liter.