After meeting with Gary Berntsen on Sunday, February 21, 2010--ex CIA operations officer who is seeking the Suffolk County Congressional seat for District 1 in Riverhead, NY--the following is the letter that I sent to Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus regarding the Navy's procrastination in cleaning up the toxic plume re the Peconic River. Gary Berntsen knows Ray Mabus personally and said that he would speak to the secretary on a one-to-one. Let's see where this will lead. Stay tuned.
Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus
1000 Navy Pentagon
Washington, DC 20350-1000
RE: Peconic River Toxic Plume, Riverhead, New York
Dear Secretary Mabus:
As we live on the Peconic River in Riverhead, NY, we are very concerned about the toxic plume that is threatening the Peconic Estuary. We are aware that there exists a commission composed of Navy personnel and community members that has been established to address this matter. However, the Navy is procrastinating in dealing with the issue; that is, a major clean-up. Meetings, studies, more meetings and further studies all serve to delay what must be addressed immediately. The Navy has been aware of this debacle for at least the past decade.
The Navy's remedial project manager, Lora Fly, who oversees the so-called federal clean-up, denied the Navy Restoration Advisory Board's temporary measure while the Navy continues to drag its feet. Be reminded that tests of wells in the Calverton area conducted by the Navy and the county health department have found high concentrations of Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) to be 200 (two hundred) times higher than the state's allowable drinking water standards. Additionally, two discharge points of VOCs have been found on the banks of the Peconic River.
A disproportionate number of Suffok County folks (as opposed to other counties throughout the country) have developed cancer. The seepage of aircraft cleaning chemicals used at the defunct Grumman Aircraft facility in Manorville, NY, is, no doubt, a cause. The Peconic River Sportsman's Club, located in Manorville, of which I am a resigned member in good standing, has had a well closed because of inordinate levels of contamination. Fishermen at the club are told not to eat the fish that they catch. Advisory board members had requested that the Navy take a temporary measure and install a "pump-and treat-system" in the midst of the extensive toxic plume, which is polluting the Peconic River. The Navy has refused. Be reminded that initially the Navy had stated, unequivocally, that the plume was going to dissipate through "natural attenuation." It has not--nor will this egregious matter.
I am a novelist and outdoors writer. My credentials may be viewed at www.robertbanfelder.com. In an effort to make people aware of this serious problem, I have written six blogs on the toxic plume matter, which appear on my Red Room Web site, www.redroom/blog.robert-banfelder. I invite you to read them.
Last Sunday, we attended the campaign kick-off for Gary Berntsen for Congress. I posed the problem to Gary directly, informing him that nothing is being done (apart from P.R. rhetoric) to correct the matter. We are talking Volatile Organic Compounds now leaching into the Peconic River. Mr. Berntsen said that he knows you personally and would address the issue. We are hoping that the two of you will make positive headway. Suffolk County residents have a grave situation here on Long Island, and the United States Navy needs to act immediately.
As an aside, we are sure you are well aware that as a CIA key field commander in Afghanistan, Gary's team failed to literally deliver Osama bin Laden's head in a box back to the United States because of bureaucratic red tape: CENTCOM, Langley (seventh floor), and Washington, DC. Please do not wrap or bury this Suffolk County debacle in red tape. You are dealing with the health and well-being of its residents.
We would appreciate, after your speaking with Gary, a timely response re this matter.
Causes Robert Banfelder Supports
Breast Cancer Research Foundation