Cecilia DowdSep 29, 2017, 8:11 pmSep 30, 2017, 7:42 am

New US Navy secretary discusses cleanup of toxic plume in Bethpage

Visit comes as chemical is discovered at another school


MASSAPEQUA — The new U.S. secretary of the Navy visited Long Island Friday to talk about the toxic plume beneath Bethpage. The visit comes as contamination is confirmed beneath another Bethpage school.

"Getting up here and seeing what's going on with the plume in Bethpage was a priority and remains a priority. The Navy knows its responsibilities, the Navy's not going anywhere, the Navy's part of this community as it is a part of a lot of communities and we will do what's the right thing to do," said U.S. Navy Secretary Richard Spencer standing with Sen. Charles Schumer Friday to reassure Long Islanders concerned about the Bethpage plume.

"Look, it keeps getting worse. Today we had another announcement. We knew radium was in another one of the schools, now it's in another school. We've known these problems. We have to solve them." Sen. Charles said.

Coinciding with the Navy secretary's visit was the discovery of more radium at Central Blvd. Elementary School in Bethpage.

On its website the Bethpage School District says:

"We have verbal reports that radium was detected in the groundwater at levels similar to Bethpage High School."

The Bethpage Water District says it concurs with the Dept. of Environmental Conservation's statement that "the groundwater is not used for drinking" and there are "no immediate health concerns"…"due to the presence of radium.

As FiOS1 News has reported, the toxic plume is a result of the old Grumman plant in Bethpage where planes were built for World War II. While the plant's achievements were laudable, there was a serious downside. Chemicals made their way into the ground. Officials have said the drinking water in the areas affected is safe.

"The plume is spreading. It was this in 2003. Now it's all the way below the Southern State Parkway, putting many, many people at risk," Sen. Charles said while demonstrating two maps with the plume then and now.

"We have science on our side, we have technology on our side and now with the good work of the senator, we have more resources on our side that will assist us in tackling this issue" U.S. Navy Sec. Spencer

"If we don't do remediation, it's going to cost a lot of money. And as I say the people who live here, the people of Massapequa, Bethpage and South Farmingdale, they didn't make the mess. They shouldn't be charged with cleaning it up." Sen. Schumer said.

As for a timeline, Sen. Schumer says that he wants to get money for remediation in the budget, which he says should be done by December and next summer is when plans will be submitted.

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