Representatives of Nassau County, Glen Cove and environmental agencies met on Oct. 27 to discuss the next step in the cleanup of Crescent Beach, which is potentially contaminated by sewage from nearby outfall pipes.
The meeting’s participants included the county Department of Public Works, Board of Health and Department of Environmental Conservation; the Hempstead Harbor Protection Committee; D&B Engineering; County Legislator Delia DeRiggi-Whitton; Glen Cove Mayor Reggie Spinello and Councilman Tim Tenke.
While Spinello and DeRiggi-Whitton said the DEC had taken the lead on the investigation, DEC Spokeswoman Erica Ringewald said it was a multi-agency effort.
“The DEC is working in conjunction with the Nassau County departments of public works and health and the City of Glen Cove to investigate and identify the potential sources of contamination,” the DEC’s statement said. “DEC will take all actions necessary to track down and address the source, or sources, of contamination, including state-directed enforcement actions and/or penalties against entities found to be violating water quality standards.”
The meeting was a response to a draft sanitary sewer feasibility report compiled by D&B Engineering on behalf of the County Legislature, which was announced at an Oct. 13 press conference held by DeRiggi-Whitton. The report indicated that the pollution at Crescent Beach was coming from several sewage outfall pipes that empty into a stream that flows into Hempstead Harbor, and named several large estates nearby.
D&B confirmed that the final draft would be available soon, and that it would confirm the draft report.
Since the pipes were discovered, there has been some confusion as to which agency should take the lead in the cleanup effort. Spinello has said that the county should, because it financed the study, while DeRiggi-Whitton and Tenke said they believed the city should be responsible for at least initiating some type of enforcement.
“It’s not about lead agency status. This is an unlawful discharge of sewage onto a public beach,” said Sea Cliff Village Administrator Bruce Kennedy, who also attended the Oct. 27 meeting. “[Spinello] doesn’t need anybody else to start the enforcement.”
Tenke and Kennedy have both stated that the city is required by law to investigate illegal discharge. Spinello has said he does not want to accuse homeowners until the pipes are investigated.
“If this pipe is aiming right at that estate, it’s very doubtful that halfway up it does a 90-degree turn and goes somewhere else,” Kennedy said. “All the City of Glen Cove needs to do is go in there and conduct an investigation. If the homeowner says no, then the city goes to the judge … and requests a search warrant. There is a lawful manner to go about this.”
DeRiggi-Whitton requested that the DEC expedite a plan of action so the project can move forward without further delay. “Time is of the essence to find a permanent solution to this problem that has continued for too many years,” she said. “The report has been complete for two months. There is no reason to delay any longer to begin remediation plans. I’m appreciative and relieved that the DEC is taking the lead on this investigation.”
“There is no agency more knowledgeable in matters such as this than the DEC,” Spinello said. “The city looks forward to their action plan and is ready to provide whatever assistance they may need in remedying this longstanding and complicated issue.”
Crescent Beach, which in the past has been used by residents of both Glen Cove and Sea Cliff, has been closed since 2009 because of pollution. Officials hope it can be cleaned up by next summer.