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Jul 12, 2019 10:20 AMPublication: The Southampton Press

Southampton Town Makes Changes To Proposed Law For Groundwater Monitoring At Mine Sites

Assistant Town Attorney Richard Harris explained the changes made to Southampton Town's proposed local law for groundwater monitoring during the public hearing on July 9. ANISAH ABDULLAH
Jul 24, 2019 11:23 AM

A proposed local law to mandate groundwater monitoring at all mining operations within Southampton Town, significantly modified to address earlier input from both community stakeholders and mine representatives, appears set for approval at the next Town Board meeting on July 23.

The Town Board had held a public hearing on the original draft in late spring, but board members closed it to amend the proposal based on what they heard. A new public hearing for the amended version was held on Tuesday, July 9, and board members, along with the only speaker from the public, said they were in favor of the changes.

The proposal would require mining operations to submit a groundwater monitoring plan to the town that was prepared by a certified third party. Upon town approval, the third party would use the plan to test whether mining activities were contaminating the groundwater below. Chemical threshold levels that are found to exceed federal, state and county standards would force the mine to cease activities and remedy the situation.

The original proposal stated that mines would be prohibited from operating until the town approved the submitted plan, but that stipulation was removed. In the new draft, mine owners would have to halt operations only if they violate the new law, or if contamination was found and they needed to develop a remediation plan.

“The town can’t tell an operator how to operate its mine. That is reserved for the [Department of Environmental Conservation]. The town does, however, have the authority to reserve local zoning laws, building regulation and its police powers,” Assistant Town Attorney Richard Harris said at the latest public hearing.

The new proposal gives the owners 90 days to provide a plan from the time they receive written notification about the new provision from the town. The monitoring plan would include historical data on site development and groundwater, a site survey, proposed locations of at least three groundwater monitoring wells, and a schedule for water sample testing that would take place at least twice a year.

Penalties for offenses also considerably increased as part of the changes. For a first violation, the maximum amount for a fine jumped from $3,500 to $10,000, and the payment for a “water quality protection” surcharge went from $100 to $1,000. Subsequent offenses had a minimum fine of $2,000, but now have a minimum of $10,000. A subsection was also added to allow the town to seek injunctive relief in State Supreme Court.

Chemical testing requirements were also amended to align with standards of the State DEC, the Suffolk County Department of Health Services and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Concerns were made at past public hearings that the town was imposing arbitrary chemical analysis standards that departed from DEC standards.

The only person to comment on the new changes at the latest public hearing was Kevin Brown, an attorney representing Westhampton Property Associates, a sand and gravel supplier based in Deer Park.

“It addresses many, many of the concerns we initially had,” Mr. Brown said of the revised legislation, pointing out that any other technical issues can be resolved during the development of the monitoring plan.

The revisions were made based on input from community members and mine representatives who either spoke at past public hearings or submitted written comments to the town, Mr. Harris said during a June board meeting. At the first public hearing on April 30, many of those who spoke said that the proposal needed more work. Bob DeLuca, president of Group for the East End, pushed for tougher fines at that hearing.

Implementing the law is meant to help protect the region’s sole source aquifer from potential contamination resulting from mining activities.

The Town Board closed the public hearing on Tuesday and left the written record open for comments for one week, to close at the end of the business day on July 16.

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What will the town of Easthampton be fined for the pollution in Wainscott... County for Grabriski??
How about Southampton Village polluting Agawam Pond??? Wainscott Pond, Mill Pond where do we start and stop???
By knitter (1941), Southampton on Jul 15, 19 7:06 PM
How about Southampton (SHTB) monitor itself and town operations? Mandate groundwater monitoring at transfer stations, fire departments, etc.. This town fails to look at itself.
By Hamptonsway (107), Southampton on Jul 15, 19 9:19 PM
Nobody wants a sand mine. I'm sorry but the place is been there for literally 80 years. It's really sick
By chief1 (2800), southampton on Jul 18, 19 6:21 PM
do not want sand mines anywhere in Suffolk County. No sand mining period. No mining as part of transportation or stormwater projects. No sand sales orchestrated by any government entity in Suffolk County.
By deKooning (106), southampton on Jul 25, 19 1:12 PM
Monitor all the golf courses and all the waterfront house that are polluting our ponds, bays and oceans.
Google earth Southampton and look at all the GREEN Lawns right to the ponds. Meadow Lane in southampton.
GREEN, GREEN the color of our ponds now...
By knitter (1941), Southampton on Jul 27, 19 9:15 AM