DEC reviewing 22 Nassau sites for radioactive materials

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Lockheed Martin is cleaning up contamination at this office complex at 1111 Marcus Ave. in Lake Success. (Photo from Google Maps)

The state Department of Environmental Conservation is examining whether radioactive materials were used at 22 sites in Nassau County, officials said this week.

The sites are among 43 across Long Island where the department is working to determine whether radioactive materials were released into the environment, a DEC spokesman said.

The DEC is targeting sites on the state or federal Superfund lists that include laboratories and facilities associated with military, electronics and metals manufacturing, industries in which radioactive materials were commonly used, the spokesman, Kevin Frazier, said.

“While radium and other radioactive materials can be naturally occurring, and some detections in groundwater are not uncommon, DEC will pursue any potential sources of contamination and will hold polluters accountable for any necessary investigation and remediation,” Frazier said in an email.

The initiative follows the discovery of radium in a soil sample from a Lake Success site last month, and a Newsday report that radioactive materials were used at the former Grumman Aerospace facility in Bethpage.

The DEC’s review also includes 10 Long Island landfills — six of which are in Nassau County — that are associated with the identified facilities or may have received waste containing radioactive material, Frazier said. Some of those landfills are also on the Superfund lists.

The review is only examining sites where cleanup projects are underway or have already been completed, Frazier said.

The DEC will first review its own records for the 43 sites and request documents and test data from the companies responsible for them, Frazier said.

Where it finds “areas or sites of concerns,” it will require further testing and possibly additional cleanup work to address the potential danger of radioactive materials, Frazier said.

The DEC would not list specific locations it is reviewing. There are 98 active cleanup projects in Nassau County listed on the department’s state Superfund registry, 21 of which are within Blank Slate Media’s coverage area.

The DEC asked Lockheed Martin, which has handled cleanup at 1111 Marcus Ave. in Lake Success for the past two decades, to submit a report on the “storage, use and disposal” of any radioactive materials at that facility. That report is due by the end of this month.

Last month was the first time radium was detected at the 90-acre property. Elevated levels of the chemical were found in contaminated soil that Lockheed Martin was removing from the site, which the now-defunct defense contractor Sperry first used for military manufacturing.

The radium posed no threat to local water supplies or air quality, state officials said last month.

Sperry dumped degreasers and other industrial solvents in underground tanks that leaked into the ground, creating a 900-acre contamination plume extending northwest of the property.

Mekell Mikell, a Lockheed Martin spokeswoman, said the company is investigating the source of the radium and continues to screen for radiation in all soil excavations.

“We value our open and collaborative partnership with the community, and we will continue to be forthright and transparent about our cleanup work in Lake Success,” Mikell said in a statement.

Ralph Kreitzman, the vice chairman of the Water Authority of Great Neck North, said radioactive materials are a new issue for local water officials, who already work to detect problems and address them proactively.

But he supports the DEC “looking at all potential contamination wherever it may be,” he said.

“I’m encouraged that they are looking into all potential contaminants so that they can be addressed before they become an issue,” Kreitzman said.

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