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Public And Corporate Forces Join To Protect Water

A critical agreement to treat and clean the plume of contamination emanating from the old Unisys defense plant in Lake Success while also protecting the aquifers from salt water intrusion has been reached among all the parties involved, the Lockheed Martin Corporation, the Water Authority of Great Neck North and the Manhasset-Lakeville Water District.

The agreement requires the approval of the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation.

Hammered out over the course of the last two months, the seven-page agreement spells out the caps for pumping that will be honored by the Authority and the District in the area where wells are located on Community Drive. These pumping limits are to assure that saltwater intrusion will be prevented. Lockheed Martin will be sampling wells for chloride levels.

The agreement also provides that Lockheed Martin will bear the actual cost of operations, maintenance and capital requirements for water treatment to remove the chemicals to a non-detect level, a standard that exceeds the requirements for drinking water in New York State. The document estimates that the total cost to be paid to the District by Lockheed may be as much as $10.4 million and may be up to $12.95 million for the Authority.

Lockheed also agrees to pay the legal fees associated with the agreement for both the Authority and the District within limits.

Surrounded as Great Neck is by sea water, the science is clear that high rates of pumping from the aquifers can change the natural underground flow of the aquifers and allow salt water to seep into them. At a certain point, the salt content may become so intense that wells located near coastal areas no longer provide drinkable water and must be abandoned. Great Neck has already lost wells as a result of this phenomenon several years ago.

Before the dangers inherent in a host of chemicals were recognized, the Unisys Corporation freely dumped waste by-products into the ground. Over time this brew of chemicals gravitated downward into the aquifers forming a plume of contamination that has steadily traveled north/northwest at a rate of one foot per day. When Lockheed Martin acquired the property, the corporation legally became the responsible party and has spent millions in order to clean the water supply under the direction of the DEC.

Authority Superintendent Gregory Graziano who had been most concerned about any remediation plan that did not include provisions for salt water intrusion said, “We are very pleased about this agreement and are especially grateful to Senator Jack Martins who was instrumental in getting everybody to sit down at the table and work this out.” 

District Commissioner Andrew DeMartin said: “If implemented, this plan will be the most effective and rapid solution to remove the biggest volume of chemicals from the plume. All parties should take pride in the solution and I would like to thank Senator Martins and Assemblywoman Michelle Schimel for helping us get this resolved.”

Spokesperson for the Lockheed Martin Corporation Gary Cambre in an email commented: “Lockheed Martin takes its environmental responsibilities seriously and believes that transparent engagement with local community stakeholders is important when developing and implementing successful remedial solutions.  The Manhasset-Lakeville Water District (MLWD) and the Water Authority of Great Neck North (WAGNN) have agreed on contract terms with Lockheed Martin that would obligate the corporation to pay for groundwater treatment as well as operation and maintenance of MLWD and WAGNN wells impacted by contamination from the former Unisys facility.”

Senator Martins stated: “The Agreement reached by Manhasset-Lakeville, the Water Authority of Great Neck North, and Lockheed Martin, protects the environment, preserves the quality of our drinking water, while protecting our taxpayers.  A true win-win-win.  Through their collaboration they’ve ensured quality water for generations to come and they should be congratulated.”