New York Proposes Consent Decree with Northrop Grumman Over Hazardous Substance Release

A suit and accompanying consent decree were filed on Wednesday in the Eastern District of New York by the state of New York and against Northrop Grumman Systems Corporation. The complaint alleges that the defendant is responsible for remediation costs under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act of 1980 (CERCLA) due to hazardous substances they released at a site in Bethpage, New York.

The defendant, court filings say, owned and operated the site beginning in the 1930s. The plaintiff claims that Northrop Grumman “released hazardous substances to the soil and groundwater” in the parts of the site that they owned, including trichloroethene, or TCE. TCE is described in the complaint as a “carcinogen that may cause kidney cancer, liver cancer and malignant lymphoma.”

The hazardous substances that were released at the site have seeped into the soil and entered the groundwater beneath the site, court documents say. The contaminated groundwater than runs to the Great South Bay, ultimately connecting with the Atlantic Ocean. Over time, the groundwater has created plumes, which are areas where the concentration of hazardous substances exceeds standards and continue to expand over time.

A state agency has taken action alongside the defendant to remediate the site, including investigations, soil remediation, groundwater recovery, and more, according to the complaint. Although the defendant has begun operating two separate on-site containment systems to mitigate the effects of the plumes, they are continuing to expand, which has led to an “increased concentration of hazardous substances in groundwater further and further downgradient” from the site.

The plaintiffs contend that the results indicate current mitigation efforts are not enough to protect human health and the environment. They have issued a new selected remedy which involves additional extraction and treatment of contaminated groundwater.

The complaint cites counts of cost recovery and natural resources damages under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act of 1980 (CERCLA), public nuisance and restitution. The complaint seeks a declaration that the defendant is liable to the state under CERCLA for the release of hazardous substances at the site and the destruction of New York’s natural resources, the costs of site remediation, enforcement costs, and any other relief deemed just by the court.