Remediation efforts set to begin on contaminated Long Island baseball field

BETHPAGE, Long Island (WABC) -- Officials in the town of Oyster Bay announced Wednesday plans to remediate a community baseball field in Bethpage, which has lied dormant for nearly two decades due to soil contamination.

"This has gone on far too long, and we will make sure that everything is remediated fully, properly," said Oyster Bay Supervisor Joseph Saladino during a press conference at the overgrown field Wednesday morning.

The baseball field at Bethpage Community Park was last used in 2002. Volatile organic compounds, or VOCs, were found in the soil.

Beginning in the late 1930s, Northrop Grumman and the U.S. Navy developed, tested and manufactured airplanes on the property, where ground paint, oils and other solvents were legally disposed into the ground.

Northrop Grumman is paying the full cost of the remediation work at the baseball field, which will run into the millions, according to Saladino.

"Rather than dragging this out in court, they realized it was their responsibility to come to the plate to get this cleaned up and return this facility to the residents," Saladino said.

Saladino said the work will consist of several phases, the first which will commence in a few weeks. Crews will install remediation wells beneath the ground. In the spring, the wells will be used to install remediation systems that will remove the VOCs.

"The second part of the project will involve excavation and safe disposal of contaminated soil off Long Island," Saladino said.

Saladino assured residents that experts with the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation and the town of Oyster Bay will monitor the cleanup efforts closely.

"Constant dust and air monitoring are taking place throughout the course of the project paid for by the responsible parties and overseen by DEC officials," he said.

Teri Catapano Black with the Bethpage Chamber of Commerce said she wished an agreement to clean up the site had happened sooner.

"An entire generation of Bethpage children were not able to utilize or play on these fields," Black said.

Black also represents the Bethpage Water District, which assisted in striking the deal with Grumman.

Dennis Baggia, the president of Bethpage Baseball, said having the field open will be a huge asset to the league's 800 young players. He said the children have been playing on local school fields and other town fields.

"Long Island, in general, is tight in fields for baseball, and anytime you get a field, it's better for the kids because they have more places to play," he said. "That particular field was always a very nice field. It was lighted, had sunken dugouts. It was a very nice field and losing the field for Bethpage Little League was bad."

Baggia said he believes if parents are given the full details of the extent of the remediation, they will not hesitate to allow their children to play on the field when it reopens.

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