Four residents of Wainscott have filed a new federal lawsuit seeking to stop work on the recently begun land-based portion of the South Fork Wind Farm, charging that the federal government’s approval of a cable through their neighborhood will cause “serious environmental problems” by disturbing known groundwater toxic plumes.
The suit, filed in federal court in Central Islip Wednesday, is the latest in a series of legal attempts to block the land-based portion of the wind farm, none of which has been successful. Trenching work has begun after a kickoff ceremony last month with Interior Secretary Deb Haaland and Gov. Kathy Hochul.
The new suit seeks a temporary restraining order to stop work on the cable, and a permanent injunction “against any such work.”
The suit charges the trenching required for the high-voltage cable from Wainscott Beach to an East Hampton village substation will “disturb and spread known contamination of the ground water by so-called per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, which are health-endangering compounds in the eyes of federal and state authorities.” A similar suit filed in state court was dismissed last week.
Developers Orsted and Eversource, and their contractor, have said they will follow protocols, including regular testing of groundwater, to keep the work safe.
Spokespersons for the Army Corps, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management and Interior Department declined comment. Lawyers for the plaintiffs didn’t respond to requests seeking comment.
The suit says release of the contamination “will likely threaten public and private water wells, including those owned” by the plaintiffs, Pamela and Michael Mahoney and Lisa and Mitch Solomon.
The Mahoneys have owned their land since the 1940s, and used a private water well on the property until 2018, when they learned water was contaminated with PFAS. They switched to other water sources but use the water for irrigation and other purposes. The Solomon’s also have a well, but don’t use it for drinking water.
The suit points to excavation up to 11 feet underground to bury the cable as the root of the problem, saying it “will facilitate the movement of higher concentrations of PFAS” onto the Mahoney and Solomon properties, the suit claims.
The suit, which doesn’t name the developers Orsted or Eversource, or LIPA, which is contracting for the 130-megawatts of energy from the array, charges the federal government “failed to take a hard look at PFAS contamination” before starting the project. All permits for the work, including needed Army Corps of Engineers permits, were granted last month, when construction began.
The suit says the federal government agencies, including the BOEM, “barely considered the serious risk of the South Fork project’s causing or furthering contamination in the drinking water supply in East Hampton.”
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