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TONH Resolution Sparks Criticism From GOP

A Town of North Hempstead resolution authorizing a $90,000 payment to reimburse the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for the cost of drilling and analysis at Harbor View in Port Washington, which ordinarily would be a routine matter, sparked criticism from the GOP. In an e-mail widely distributed to the press and to many individuals, Lee Tu, GOP candidate for Town Supervisor and Francis X. Moroney, Esq., the North Hempstead Republican Leader, raised objection to the resolution. Despite their opposition and their urging people to turn out to the meeting, the resolution passed unanimously at the Sept. 8 meeting with virtually no discussion. Supervisor Jon Kaiman explained, “The board members had been fully briefed and had been provided with all the documentation.”

Moroney and Tu wrote, in part, “The Town of North Hempstead will approve an agreement tonight under which it will pay the U.S. EPA $90,000+ for the work EPA did on soil and ground contamination from volatile organic …and chemical material that leached into the groundwater and migrated into the Port Washington drinking water.” Town Attorney Richard Finkel explained that the EPA “conducted a review of the site and concluded that a potential existed for an adverse impact at …Harbor View Estates …related to a possible buildup of soil vapor associated with a plume of contamination from the inactive landfill.”

Finkel added that, despite the fact that “the town was confident that there was no adverse impact,” the EPA performed the testing. Under the terms of the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA), the town was responsible for reimbursing the EPA for their costs, and that is what was authorized under the resolution.

Finkel went on to state regarding the findings, “Most importantly, at the conclusion of the work, EPA determined that there is no unacceptable risk present at the sampling locations at Harbor View Estates.” Kaiman added emphatically, “They found absolutely nothing. The plume is gone. The settlement agreement and study does not address vapors that might have migrated from the site that effected [sic] home owners in the Harbor View Estates.” Neither Moroney nor the town representatives were able to provide documentation of their claims by press time, nor was the Port Washington News able to independently confirm. Kaiman and Finkel emphasized that the term “settlement agreement,” used twice in the GOP statement, is inaccurate; they say it was not a “settlement,” but simply an authorization to reimburse EPA for expenses, as required by law, and in accordance with a long-term agreement.

The GOP went on to accuse the Kaiman administration of “cryptic” labeling of the resolution, which was listed in the published agenda as “A Resolution Authorizing a Cost Recovery Agreement with the United States Environmental Protection Agency.” They further said that the issue had been kept “under wraps.” Kaiman pointed out that there had been several public meetings, as well as discussions with representatives of the local residents. The GOP representatives did not respond to a Port News request to clarify what they meant by “cryptic” and “under wraps.”

According to the TONH website, Landfill L4 was closed in 1983; L5 was closed in 1991, and the final phase of capping was completed in 2004. The landfill is now completely closed, capped, and inactive.