Saturday, October 10, 2009

The EPA needs to revisit chemical exposure at Earle

NOPE's efforts to get the EPA to withdraw the agency's implicit approval for civilian housing at Weapons Station Earle has essentially fallen on deaf ears. Our contention is that the Department of Navy purposely misled the EPA on its "purpose and need" for wanting to open the 300 Laurelwood homes (now used by 6-8 Navy dependents) on the base to civilians and build a 2-mile access road to the development, and that the best way to not disturb the environment or expose potential renters is to not house civilians at the base.

NOPE already knows that the new road will traverse wetlands and, in fact, be within 100 feet of an EPA Superfund site (NPL Site #1) that was used from the 1940s thru the 1970s to burn spent ammunition. Soil tests of this "capped" site show high levels of arsenic in the water, and we assume there are other chemicals in the soil severely harmful to people exposed.

Thursday, CNN issued a report of a preponderence of men raised at Camp Lejeune (North Carolina) Marine training base from the 1950s thru 1980s who have breast cancer, owing to exposure to hazardous materials and contaminated tap water. (Others with breast cancer were exposed to smoke from "burn pits" in Iraq. As far as we know, Earle continues to burn spent ammunition as part of its routine mission, and this will not change once civilians move into Laurelwood housing next September.)

Again, it will be interesting to see how the Department of Navy handles Laurelwood renters' exposure to extremely harmful chemicals over the course of 30 years, starting in September 2010, when we presume civilians will be living within the base's exterior fence line and driving thru active areas of the base, separated by a mere 7-foot-high fence. Stay tuned as we await a formal response from the EPA on whether it will go back to the drawing board at Earle.

No comments: