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Oct 9, 2017 3:55 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Southampton Town Considers Litigation Over Hampton Bays Well Contamination

The Southampton Town Board is considering litigation over chemical contamination in two Hampton Bays wells.
Oct 11, 2017 12:26 PM

The Southampton Town Board may sue the manufacturers of two chemicals that have contaminated drinking water wells in the Hampton Bays Water District.

Members of the board, who also serve as the commissioners of the hamlet's water district, voted at a special meeting on Tuesday to retain Melville-based Napoli Shkolnik PLLC for potential litigation against the manufacturers of a pair of chemicals: perfluorooctane sulfonate, or PFOS, and perfluorooctanoic acid, or PFOA. It was not immediately clear how much money the board set aside for the potential lawsuit.

On Tuesday, Town Supervisor Jay Schneiderman said the town has not yet decided which company or companies it intends to sue, explaining that they still must be identified.

Both chemicals were recently found in two of the water district's 11 wells. Robert King, superintendent of the water district, did not attend Tuesday's meeting but previously noted that both wells were turned off after the contamination was detected.

Napoli Shkolnik PLLC is already representing several homeowners living near Francis S. Gabreski Airport in Westhampton whose private wells were contaminated by the same chemicals. Authorities think the chemicals, detected in more than 100 private wells south of the airfield, will eventually be traced back to firefighting foam used for decades at the Air National Guard base that operates from the Suffolk County-owned airport.

The same law firm also represented the Hampton Bays Water District when it sued the manufacturer of methyl tertiary butyl ether, or MTBE, a gasoline additive, after the colorless liquid was detected in the hamlet's aquifer. The water district received a $1.1 million settlement even though MTBE was never detected in its 11 wells, according to Mr. King.

The water district stashed that settlement money away until recently when the Town Board allowed it to spend the cash on granular activated carbon filters that will eventually be installed on its two contaminated wells.

Additionally, water district officials learned this week that they will also be getting some state funding to help protect its well system. Governor Andrew Cuomo will be setting aside $720,000 of a $1.2 million state grant for the water district so it can provide extra filtration at the wellheads in Hampton Bays, according to State Assemblyman Fred Thiele Jr.

"With the emergence of chemicals … in the environment in locations such as Gabreski Airport, and now the Hampton Bays Water District, the availability of substantial state capital funds is critical to help local government ensure the protection of our water supply," Mr. Thiele said. "I applaud the governor for providing this important grant in my Assembly district."

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And, we have had so many gasoline fires. Wouldn't it have been prudent to check for potential impacts before practicing with it and spraying all over the place?
By The Real World (368), southampton on Oct 9, 17 4:01 PM
Let's see the idiots working at the water district (also on firehouse board) were in charge of storing the foam. They improperly stored the foam so we will sue the company? How about you fire the idiots at the water authority who have one thing in common they are all related to someone in Southampton. Govt or friends in Govt. Way to be a leader Sneiderman.
By chief1 (2800), southampton on Oct 9, 17 5:11 PM
1 member liked this comment
And the product manufacturer will implead the FD and the HB Water Authority and the taxpayers will be footing the bill for 75% of the legal fees and most likely a portion of any settlement. Way to go Southampton Town officials. They are all clueless.
By HB90 (164), southampton on Oct 9, 17 7:53 PM
1 member liked this comment
The head of the water department was to busy doing side sprinkler work with the town owned truck to care. Check the water department records to see how much sprinkler pipe and fittings the taxpayers have had to pay for to keep the good old boys in beer money, enough clean house HB get involved
By tinboat (17), hampton bays on Oct 10, 17 7:59 AM
If you think this water problem in HB is bad, wait until the DLC puts in their golf course and pollutes the water in East Quogue. Maybe the Town should hire several full time attorneys to sue all the polluters. That is why we have to stop Mr. Jay Schneiderman and his greedy friends NOW. End the Hills PDD.

Write in FRED HAVEMEYER for Town Supervisor!

By SpeedRacer (160), Southampton on Oct 16, 17 11:04 PM