Thursday, September 10, 2009

NOPE files another environmental challenge, re: convergence of planned Laurelwood access route and EPA Superfund site

This afternoon we are mailing another challenge to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, questioning the apparent overlap of the Navy's route selection (i.e. "Alternative 4" from the EIS) to the Laurelwood homes and a 6-acre area designated a "Do Not Disturb" area near the planned unimpeded civilian entrance at the eastern-most point (on the map that we've linked, near the blue circle on the right) of Macassar Road, within Weapons Station Earle.

In addition to EPA Region 2 Strategic Planning Chief John Filippelli, NOPE has sent similar letters to EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson, New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Mark Mauriello, Monmouth County Public Health Coordinator Michael Meddis, as well as to Thomas Frieden, Administrator for the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR, a division of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services) in Atlanta, GA.

This latest environmental discovery was the handiwork of Diana Piotrowski, NOPE's Communications Director, who upon reviewing the Laurelwood Final EIS for the umpteenth time, this time against an ATSDR Public Health Assessment of Weapons Station Earle in August of 2006, identified that Site 1 (shown in Appendix A-1 in the ATSDR's report) "is restricted" and portrayed as an area with "infrequent" human contact.

In short, Site 1 (one of 29 EPA Superfund sites at NWS Earle) was an area where the Navy burned ordnance materials from 1943-1975 and was thereafter plowed over and burned (using diesel-soaked hay) three times and declared as a restricted area. ATSDR's map (see Figure 2 on page 41 of the report) put Site 1 at about the same spot where part of Alternative 4 is expected to run, prompting us to question whether the U.S. Navy's EIS guidance and selection of route Alternative #4 infringes upon a restricted environmental area.

Our letters to the above-noted agencies request clarification to NOPE about this coincidence, if not a full-scale investigation into the convergence of ATSDR Site 1 and Laurelwood Final EIS Alternative 4, and the impact of road construction to that area, not to mention potential harmful exposure to chromium, explosives compounds and petroleum hydrocarbons to both Naval personnel residing in Stark Road Housing and the presumed civilian occupants at Laurelwood.

NOPE welcomes any contact with resident environmental experts on this issue, and encourages you to email or call us (732.322.0130) pertaining to this issue if you can assist in our environmental challenges of the Laurelwood civilian housing plan. Otherwise, we will keep you posted here on the EPA, DEP, Monmouth County and ATSDR response to our query.

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