Nassau County Legislator Denise Ford (R-Long Beach) called on the Environmental Protection Agency last week to test the air and water in Long Beach and other areas amid residents’ concerns over the impact that sewage-tinged floodwater and large piles of debris may have on their health.
“I don’t think we need to create a panic, but I really would like to know, and we want to make sure they truly test it and not do what they did post-9/11,” Ford said. “If we’re concerned about the air, let’s just have it tested. I’m hoping that we’re worried about nothing, and that such a test will give us a sense of confidence.”
Hurricane Sandy’s 13-foot storm surge flooded homes and businesses, damaged the city’s sewage and water treatment plants and caused the Bay Park Sewage Treatment Plant to release millions of gallons of raw sewage into Reynolds Channel. After the storm, residents’ discarded debris — including insulation, tiles and garbage — accumulated into large piles throughout the city.
“We’re looking at the dump at Nickerson Beach, which is causing concern for residents as well,” Ford said.
“People are concerned about the insulation and the mold,” said Board of Education President Roy Lester, whose home in the Canals was heavily damaged. “You’re basically breathing in this fiberglass, but when you rip out all those tiles, there’s in all likelihood asbestos. I don’t think there’s cause for concern as long as it’s not staying around — but lots of people lived with piles for two weeks.”
City officials emphasized that there is no cause for alarm, especially after the pace of debris removal quickened in recent weeks. According to the city, more than 200,000 yards of bulk material have been removed since the storm, and crews are making a final pass through the area.