Cuomo: State should be involved on Plum Island

09/30/2013 1:20 PM |

COURTESY PHOTO | Gov. Andrew Cuomo stood at Orient Point State Park Monday urging the federal government to clean up Plum Island before it is sold.

Governor Andrew Cuomo is calling on the federal government to require a comprehensive environmental cleanup plan for Plum Island and to give the state final review of the Island’s conditions before it is put up for sale.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security and General Services Administration hope to close the research laboratory at Plum Island and use the profits from the island’s sale to cover the cost of constructing a new, $1.1 billion animal disease research laboratory in Manhattan, Kan.

During a press conference at Orient Beach State Park Monday morning the governor said DHS and GSA have dismissed environmental concerns raised by the state Department of Environmental Conservation in its recently issued Final Environmental Impact Statement and Record of Decision.

In 2010, the DEC identified a number of concerns related to landfills, buildings and other areas on the site and possible contamination of groundwater.

Subsequent DEC site inspections revealed the lab failed to properly manage and dispose of its solid waste and adhere to appropriate quality control and testing procedures for laboratory waste, Mr. Cuomo said.

In a letter dated Friday addressed to the DHS and GSA, the governor demanded the federal government conduct a full investigation on possible contamination issues that could potentially cause health, environmental and economic risks.

“Over the past three years, New York State has raised the issue of potentially serious environmental issues at the federal government’s Animal Disease Center on Plum Island that have not been fully addressed,” Governor Cuomo said in a statement. “Before the sale of Plum Island can continue, Washington must step up and sign a legally binding consent order spelling out its full plan for cleaning up the Island and giving the State oversight authority to make sure the work has been done properly.”

Mr. Cuomo is not the only one who believes the federal government hasn’t done its due diligence. Other elected leaders have taken issue with the sale and taken steps to prevent development at the land after the government’s final environmental study suggested up to 500 homes could be built on the island.

Southold Town approved new zoning laws last month that would prevent any significant development of the island.

County Legislator Al Krupski (D-Cutchogue), who spearheaded the zoning proposal when he was a member of the Town Board, said he supports Mr. Cuomo efforts.

“The Federal Government must be held accountable for environmental degradation that has occurred over the years and it is their responsibility to remediate; they should not be allowed to pass the buck,” Mr. Krupski said in a statement.

A GSA spokesperson previously said the agency is working with other agencies to address environmental concerns.

“Addressing all environmental concerns surrounding the sale of the island is a top priority for the federal government,” GSA spokeman Patrick Sclafani said in a prepared statement last month. “GSA and DHS will continue to work closely with [the Environmental Protection Agency], congressional and local officials to ensure all environmental concerns are reviewed and considered.”

The Governor’s letter can be viewed below.

Cuomo urges Plum Island environment study