On Monday local politicians helped the EPA cut the ribbon on a facility in it spent to clean the toxic plume underneath Port Jefferson village. The toxic plume was caused by chemicals that the Lawrence Aviation company had dumped on its property in Port Jefferson Station years ago.
On hand for the ceremony were Port Jefferson Mayor Margot Garant, state Assemblyman Steve Englebright, D-Setauket, state Senator Kenneth LaValle, R-Port Jefferson and Congressman Tim Bishop, D-Southampton.
The pump and treatment plant will draw water out of the ground and clean it of toxins with a carbon filtration system. The water will then be pumped through a pipeline into Mill Creek Pond where it will go back into the environment as clean water. It is also considered , according to EPA officials.
After years of fits and starts, the EPA and the village finally were able to move the project forward. The ribbon cutting was the culmination of work by both the Mayor and Keith Glenn, the on-scene coordinator for the EPA who is managing the project.
State Sen. LaValle compared the Lawrence Aviation site to the book A Civil Action saying the similarity was that in both scenarios, “the people doing the polluting were conscious of the harm they were doing.”
He also commended Mayor Garant for her “tenacity and focus” on getting attention paid to the problem.
In February of last year Mayor Garant went to state Sen. LaValle to enlist his help in bringing to light the concerns of the village about the toxic plume growing in the ground water under Port Jefferson village.
In October 2010 the EPA broke ground on the facility in Caroline Park and nine months later, the water pump and treatment plant was ready to be unveiled.
Rep. Bishop also thanked the Mayor for “getting this done” saying that it took cooperation of “three levels of government” to complete, referring to the work of his fellow local legislators at the ribbon cutting.
“This is government at its finest,” Bishop said. “To do something good on behalf of its constituents.”
Legis. Steve Englebright called the plant a “manifestation of a lot of planning and purposeful thought.” He asked people to think about what might happen if the facility did not get built.
“Think about the consequences,” he said. “If people came to Port Jefferson and they said to them, ‘you can’t go into the water.’”