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NAVSTA Newport RAB Celebrates 20th Anniversary

MIDDLETOWN, R.I. (NNS) — A partnership group, started in November 1995 between the Navy and local citizenry to build awareness and involvement with the environmental remediation projects at Naval Station (NAVSTA) Newport, met Nov. 24 to celebrate their 20th anniversary as members of the Restoration Advisory Board (RAB).

The RAB is a forum for the exchange of information between the local community and a DoD installation when the installation undertakes environmental restoration that may impact its neighbors.

The Newport RAB acts as a forum to discuss the details of studies and cleanup projects under the Navy’s Installation Restoration Program (IRP).

RAB leadership is a joint responsibility and is co-chaired by a Navy representative and an elected community member. Current co-chairs are Margaret Kirschner of Newport, Rhode Island, and David Dorocz, NAVSTA Environmental Director.

Amongst RAB members attending the meeting were Kirschner, Dorocz, Kathy Abbass, Ph.D., Bristol, Rhode Island; Claudette Weissinger, Portsmouth, Rhode Island; David Brown, Ph.D, Newport, Rhode Island; Manuel Marques, Middletown Rhode Island; and Thurston Gray, Portsmouth, Rhode Island.

Agency representatives included Pamela Crump, Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management; Deb Moore, NAVSTA Environmental; Jim Gravette, NAVFAC, Norfolk; Kymberlee Keckler, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency; and Nicole Cowand, NAVFAC, Norfolk.

Mark Kauffman of Resolution Consultants and Stephen Parker of Tetra-Tech were present, and serve as remediation technical advisors.

“We function as an inter-agency and community body with the purpose of providing public information about the cleanup of the environmental hazard sites at the Naval Station,” Kirschner said. She said one of the RAB’s accomplishments is the availability of information about these study areas on the RAB website at www.rabnewportri.org and at local libraries.

In 1984, the Navy identified 18 potentially contaminated areas on Aquidneck Island, and later added Derecktor shipyard to the list. Five years later, these sites were added to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s National Priorities List (NPL).

Seven sites were subsequently removed from Navy ownership and were managed under the Formerly Used Defense Sites (FUDS) program.

NAVSTA Newport presently has 16 environmental restoration program sites. Of these sites, 15 have environmental impacts from past Navy activities and include the former Derecktor Shipyard and one munitions remediation project. These sites became part of the Navy’s Defense Environmental Restoration Program (ERP).

“Surviving the past 20-plus years of community/Navy cooperation has been the RAB’s greatest accomplishment,” Abbass, a RAB member since its inception, said. “My understanding is that other RABs around the country are not as committed and that other citizen members are not as loyal as those for Naval Station Newport.”

“We were a passionate group of folks interested in environmental issues…,” Abbass said.

Abbass, an admitted curmudgeon, said serving as a conduit of information between the Navy and the general public is not always successful.

“All the remediation work was supposed to be completed by 2014,” Abbass said. “I’m fearful that remediation funding may not be available to complete the work.”

According to the RAB’s administrative record, $165 million has been spent to date for Newport’s IRP. Just under $60 million remains in support of the remediation program.

The Navy is currently updating their Community Relations Involvement Plan for the Environmental Installation Restoration Program at NAVSTA Newport.

“The remedies are in place and we are over the hump,” Keckler said. “We have made substantial progress but it hasn’t been without its challenges.”

She listed the completion in 1996 of the McAllister Point Landfill remediation and the capping of the Old Fire Fighter Trainer Area.

“Unfortunately, most members of the public don’t pay much attention to such environmental issues until it gets to be personal,” Abbass said. “RAB members are providing an important service to the Navy, but since we don’t have the authority to make decisions, in a sense we are sometimes merely ornamental.”

According to Dorocz, the Newport RAB’s top accomplishments include a website, www.rabnewportri.org, to keep residents and town officials informed about important information and milestones in the study and cleanup of 16 sites at NAVSTA Newport; the implosion of the 23, 2.5 million gallon concrete underground storage tanks at Tank Farm 4 and 5;
a study to reuse Tank Farms 1, 2 and 3 and the Old Fire Fighter Training facility as sites for the use of alternative energy technology; and a present study to reuse Tank Farms 4 and 5 and McAllister Point Landfill for solar photovoltaic system.

Dorocz praised the RAB community members for their dedication as volunteers on the RAB.

“You will help identify future uses of these sites after they are cleaned up,” Dorocz said.

In a ceremony at the start of the meeting, Dorocz was recognized for his dedication and work with the RAB in presentations by Keith Hamilton, president, Portsmouth Town Council; Henry Lombardi and Antone Viveiros, Middletown Town Council members; and Marco Camacho, vice chairman, Newport City Council.

In the case of the five Tank Farms the Navy, in 1940-1941 during World War II, built underground fuel tanks along the shore from McAllister Point, north of Coddington Point, to Melville.

These five facilities, called “tank farms” were used to fuel the ships berthed at Newport until the mid-1970s. The 65 tanks stored diesel oil, jet fuel, 100-octance gasoline and aviation fuel, and were used to store tank bottom sludge.

“It should always be understood that sometimes the needs of a war effort will override other public safety issues,” Abbass said.

Abbass said the Rhode Island economy benefitted at the time during the installation’s rapid development and expansion and demonstrate how the Navy’s efforts contributed to the Allied victory.

“A strength of the RAB has been the Navy and community co-chair arrangement,” said Brown, a 20 year RAB member. “This has helped to assure that aspects on the minds of nearby residents and leaders are given due attention, and that the Navy is not simply steamrolling.”

Brown said the RAB’s work was always based on solid facts, the setting of priorities, considering options and building consensus.

“We have had a good mix of institutional memory,” Brown said.

Periodically over the years RAB members received special presentations about the Superfund Process, Ethics for RAB Members, Natural Resource Damage Assessment, Overview of DoD Budgetary/IR Funding Process and Human Health Risk Assessment Process.

“Major milestones of the RAB include the remedies that are in place at McAllister Point Landfill, the Old Fire Fighter Training Area and the Naval Underwater Systems Center Disposal Area; Records of Decision (ROD) for Gould Island, Derecktor Shipyard, Tank Farm 4 and Tank Farm 5,” Dorocz said.

“We are scheduled to have a ROD by 2017 for Tank Farm 1, Tank Farm 2, Tank Farm 3, the Coddington Cove Rubble Fill, Carr Point Shooting Range and various asbestos landfill sites,” he said.

A summary of the cleanup actions follows:

-Site 1, McAllister Point Landfill. Located north of Coddington Cove, the Navy established a sanitary landfill with incinerator on-site in use from the mid-1950′s to the mid-1970′s. This served as a dump for ships home-ported in Newport, and included construction debris and household garbage. Also, acids, paints, solvents, waste oils, and PCB-contaminated oils.
Because of environmental and health hazard concerns, the Navy’s Installation Restoration (IR) Program installed a cap over the landfill in 1996 to impede water runoff into the Bay, to prevent human exposure, and to stabilize the landfill.
Current status: Completed. Site is under long term monitoring and annual inspection.

-Site 2, Melville North Landfill. Now owned by private business. Had contained PCBs, metals, and small amounts of radio-active wastes that have been removed.
Current status: Completed.

-Site 4, Coddington Cove Rubble Fill Area. Area was used 1978-1982 for disposal of rubble, concrete, asphalt, slate, wood, brush, and possibly small quantities of ash.
Current status: Conducting investigations and evaluating cleanup options. Ground water evaluation finalized in 2016.

-Site 7, Tank Farm 1.
Current status: Investigations on-going and evaluating cleanup options for FY16.

-Site 8, Naval Undersea System Center Disposal Area. Contained rubble, scrap lumber, tires wire, cable, empty paint cans.
Current status: Soil removal was completed in FY 15. Soil cover work planned for FY 16 is currently under construction.

-Site 9 and 20, Old Fire Fighting Training Area. Formerly located on the north end of Coasters Harbor Island, the area was used to train Navy personnel in fighting ship-board fires. Contamination from several burning pits and buried demolition debris were found.
Current status: Completed. Continuing to monitor with annual inspection.

-Site 10, Tank Farm 2.
Current status: Investigations completed and evaluating cleanup options.

-Site 11, Tank Farm 3.
Current status: Investigations completed and evaluating cleanup options.

-Site 12, Tank Farm 4. Contamination attributed to burning of tank bottom sludge.
Current status: Soil removal work to be completed in December 2016. Two contamination spots remain for cleanup.

-Site 13, Tank Farm Tank Farm 5. Operated as a tank farm from the 1940s-1970s. Contamination attributed to burning of tank bottom sludge.
Current status: Soil cover work to be completed by July 2016.

-Site 17, Gould Island. Contamination attributed to industrial processes related to historical torpedo overhaul operations (degreasing, electroplating and sandblasting) and former transformer buildings.
Current status: Soil and debris removal has started and is expected is expected to occur during spring/summer 2016 and be completed in the fall of 2016.

-Site 19, Derecktor Shipyard. Contamination attributed to former repair, maintenance, and construction of private and military ships by Derecktor, Inc. Includes off-shore contamination.
Current status: Soil cleanup actions, dredging, and capping will begin in the spring of 2016 and continue for approximately 18 months.

-Site 22, Carr Point Storage Area.
Current status: Conducting investigations and evaluation cleanup options.
Munitions Response Program Site 1, Carr Point Shooting Range.
Current status: Investigations completed and evaluating cleanup options.

-Site 23, Coddington Point Buried Debris Sites (5).
Current status: Conducting investigations and evaluating cleanup options.

The details about these ERP sites, original source of contamination, investigation and remediation work that has been completed, and planned work are available to the public in the administrative records that are on CD ROM disks in the government reference section of the public libraries in Newport, Middletown, Portsmouth and Jamestown.

Article source: http://www.navy.mil/submit/display.asp?story_id=92186

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