After years of claims and negotiations over water contamination emanating in part from US Navy and Northrop Grumman properties in Bethpage, NY, the Bethpage Water District (BWD), the United States, and the Northrop Grumman Corporation today filed a proposed Consent Judgment in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York resolving the matter. As a result, Bethpage Water District will receive $49 million from the United States and Northrop Grumman to treat contamination from plumes tied to the Naval Weapons Industrial Reserve Plant Bethpage and the Former Grumman Site.
“We appreciate the good faith negotiations on all sides that led to this historic settlement,” said John F. Coumatos, Chair of BWD Board of Commissioners. “This is a big win for the Bethpage community, ensuring our ability to protect the quality of our drinking water. And an even bigger win for our residents, empowering us to build and operate the best water treatment technologies available without placing those costs on them.”
The Consent Judgment calls for a split in the payment terms, with $20 million to come from the United States and $29 million from Northrop Grumman. The Consent Judgment resolves all of BWD’s claims against the Navy and Northrop Grumman, and it directs that the funds will pay a significant portion of the costs for the wellhead treatment systems at BWD Plants 5 and 6.
“This is a strong settlement worth celebrating,” said Mike Boufis, BWD Superintendent. “It does not solve all our challenges with contaminants threatening our water supply, but it does provide real relief to a budget strained by the enormous costs associated with removing contaminants found in the plumes. Thanks to everyone who helped us arrive at this day.”
As part of the settlement, Northrop Grumman will use Plant 4 to continue to do its part of the remediation of the plumes by operating Plant 4, and BWD will be able to use the funds to pay for Advanced Oxidation Process treatment for 1,4-dioxane at Plants 5 and 6, and to develop a replacement well outside the plume for Plant 4.
“This is how it is supposed to work,” said Matt Edling and Katie Jones of Sher Edling LLP, who represented Bethpage Water District on this matter. “The Bethpage community stood up for itself and demanded accountability. That led to tough, honest, and well-intentioned collaboration and negotiation. And that brought us to this announcement. Congratulations to Bethpage Water District, and thanks to all parties for putting in the work to get here.”
Once the court reviews the filing and enters the judgment, BWD will be able to receive settlement funds according to payment terms laid out in the agreement.
“As a lifelong resident of Bethpage and proud Water District Commissioner, I am honored to be a part of this team that has been steadfast in the pursuit of these results that our residents needed and deserved,” said BWD Commissioner Theresa Black. “Thanks to the hard work and dedication of our staff, Bethpage residents have had access to the highest quality drinking water despite the challenges of removing contamination from the plume. We look forward to continuing to serve our residents this new standard of drinking water for decades to come.”
"Although I am relatively new to the Board, I am a proud fourth-generation, life-long resident of the Bethpage community that has also had a father and grandfather serve on the board of Commissioners," said BWD Commissioner Scott Greco. "Our community has been fighting to achieve this for so many years, and there is such a profound appreciation for the significance of this historic moment. In our pursuit for a resolution for years of contamination to our drinking water, our team is proud that we have always provided safe clean drinking water to our residents. This award will ensure that we have the infrastructure needed to do our job for the residents in our district. Bethpage residents should never have to worry about their water and our staff have all dedicated themselves to ensure they have no reason to."