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Town of Hempstead aims to re-open water testing lab shuttered by Sandy

Officials say facility in Point Lookout will be modernized to continue protection of the environment

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POINT LOOKOUT — A water testing lab that had to be shuttered back in 2015 will be back up and running by mid-2019, according to Town of Hempstead Supervisor Laura Gillen.

It was 50 years ago when the lab initially opened and focused on monitoring contaminants in the back bays of Long Island.

"This lab used to be a bulwark against levels of pollution rising, and alerting the public to high and dangerous levels of contamination," Gillen said Friday.

After Superstorm Sandy hit, the lab flooded, leaving mold and poor air quality conditions inside the facility, forcing it to shut it down in 2015.

Now Supervisor Gillen says the town is committed to reopening the facility to continue the important work of protecting Long Island's residents and marine economy from poor water quality.

"Together we can use this important tool to bolster our beaches, our home values, as well as our commercial and recreational fishing industry," Gillen said.

Supervisor Gillen said that when the lab was initially shut down, the town had planned to sell off all of the equipment inside, under former town supervisor Anthony Santino. But that decision was stopped in time, and the town is moving ahead on updating the facility, and taking bids to remove the mold.

"I'm delighted that we did a U-turn on the failed decision to sell off the parts of this lab, and we're recommitting not only to science, and protecting the environment, but also to the people of Point Lookout," said Town of Hempstead Councilwoman Erin King Sweeney.

Biologists who work in the lab say they are looking forward to partnering with area universities on research projects at the facility in the future.

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