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Long Island MacArthur Airport Designated a Superfund Site


The Department of Environmental Conservation designated Islip’s MacArthur Airport a superfund site on Friday, February 17.

According to Sean Mahar, executive deputy commissioner for the Department of Environmental (DEC) Conservation, the move is not sudden.

“The DEC has been active on the site since 2018, when we listed the site as a P site or potential superfund site,” a designation that led to the ability to do a preliminary investigation, Mahar stated.

The contaminants of concern are PFASs, which are chemical compounds used in firefighting foam. The state began a proactive screening to examine sites that stored or used PFASs in 2016 to get a handle on the magnitude of the situation. National Guard bases, airports and firefighting training centers are all at increased risk for the contaminant.

PFAS have been associated with a number of negative health outcomes, such as cancer, liver damage, decreased fertility and increased risk of asthma and thyroid disease, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

The foam was used at MacArthur starting in the 1970s for military and fire exercises. By the year 2000, it was no longer used at the airport. The preliminary work found that six wells were impacted by the PFAS, and appropriate measures were taken to treat those sites. Other exposure pathways were also identified and handled.

“We are working with the NYS DEC and Suffolk County Water Authority in an ongoing effort to address the impacts of PFOS and PFOA,” said a spokesperson for the Town of Islip, which owns the airport.

“Public drinking water supplies are closely monitored and continue to meet standards,” the spokesperson continued. “There is no health concern.”

“The listing of a superfund site is just a formality on our part,” said Mahar, who likened the procedure to “making all the tools available in the toolbox” to remedy the site.

Some community members have voiced concerns over the potential for health risks.

There is not a timeline yet for the different remedial steps; however, when one is created, it will be sent out to residents. Local residents have been made aware of the designation.

Brian R. Monahan
Brian R. Monahan
News Editor for The Messenger Papers.