- Associated Press - Thursday, February 18, 2016

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) - New York state started testing water Thursday on Long Island for contamination from a toxic groundwater plume near a former military plane manufacturing plant.

The monitoring, from six wells, will look for harmful chemicals associated with the plume, which emanates from a 600-acre property in Bethpage that housed the Grumman Aerospace Corp., the U.S. Navy and other industries. The plume is deep underground and is believed to be spreading, potentially posing a risk to the drinking water of nearby communities.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced the beginning of the tests at an event at Stony Brook University where he also said the state would work with local and federal authorities to conduct a $6 million study of Long Island’s groundwater. The study will look at saltwater intrusion, contamination flow and overall drinking water quality.

“Information is power,” the Democratic governor said. “If we do this right we could literally save lives.”

The plume was first detected decades ago, and the Navy and Northrop Grumman say they have spent hundreds of millions of dollars cleaning up the site. It was used in the manufacture of aircraft during the cold war.

Cuomo also announced two other water-related measures Thursday: new pollution rules for mulch processing facilities and the creation of a new state Water Quality Rapid Response Team led by the state’s health and environmental commissioners.

The team will react to problems like the one in Hoosick Falls, an upstate village where toxic chemicals from a factory leaked into the drinking water.

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This story has been revised to correct the spelling of Northrop Grumman.

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