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EPA Searching For Toxic Plumes In Mineola

Agency says it originated in New Hyde Park, water supplies for both villages not in danger

The Environmental Protection Agency is currently trying to locate a toxic plume of trichloroethylene (TCE) in Mineola, which originated in New Hyde Park. EPA reps indicated that the water supplies to Mineola, New Hyde Park and the surrounding areas have not been affected.

Project manager Kevin Willis said investigators for the agency would begin drilling holes east of Herricks Road into the month of July. He revealed that the plume was first located near Gold’s Gym on Fulton Avenue in Garden City Park.

TCE is a chlorinated hydrocarbon commonly used as an industrial solvent. According to Willis, it is a nonflammable liquid with a sweet smell. Its most popular use is to degrease metals.

“We’re looking for the source of the plume,” Willis stated. “We’re hoping to find it. We found it almost 400-feet deep in the aquifer in New Hyde Park.”

The New York City EPA office retained Aquifer Drilling and Testing to drill 150 holes in the area as far east as Glen Cove Road to attempt to determine the origin and extent of the plume. Willis said if no results surface during the TCE search, well drilling could commence. However at this point, the EPA is not going down that road yet.

According to Mineola Department Public Works Superintendent Tom Rini, the EPA will drill through unpaved utility strips near Herricks Road during the testing phase.

“Once we’re done, you won’t even know it was done,” Willis said.

Mineola Mayor Scott Strauss confirmed that the village is out of the “contamination zone” but precautionary tests would commence just to clarify the issue.

“Our water is perfectly safe and as just a reminder, our water is tested monthly as a regular course of business anyway,” Strauss said.

The EPA started regulating TCE about 20 years ago, according to Willis. In terms of how the contaminant seeped into the ground, he hypothesized there could have been a spill somewhere, saturating the ground to a point where it could spread.

“We have been trying to chase [the plume] out for a while,” said Willis.

Mineola ground sampling began on June 25. Willis expected the plume to be further east over time, but the EPA would continue to follow the plume’s line so the drilling crews can suss out the problem.

With the New Hyde Park contamination, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation drilled 300 holes and found nothing, which, according to Willis, shows the plume is moving east.

EPA investigators have tracked the plume near Denton Avenue to as far east as Herrick Road, north of Jericho Turnpike. One crew will be in the field doing the work over the next two weeks and a second crew will be added sometime in July.

Willis was quick to dispel any notion this issue was related to the methyl tertiary butyl ether (MTBE) contamination that occurred on Jericho Turnpike on the property of the former Mineola Ford car dealership, where the current Chaminade Activities and Athletic Facility stands.

“The drinking water is perfectly fine. It’s been treated because of this stuff,” he said. “At this point, we’re just trying to make sure everybody’s okay. So far, everybody’s okay.”