You'll recall in my last blog (Part 3 of 4--reporting on the toxic pollution of the Peconic River) that Navy Secretary Ray Mabus and Assistant Navy Secretary for Installations and Environment B.J. Penn had taken a firm position as conveyed through Navy spokeswoman Lieutenant j.g. Steghrr in declaring that the "Calverton site [the former Northrop Grumman plant] does not present a health or safety risk." The secretary of the Navy has now done a 180, promising to do whatever it takes to rectify the matter.
Senator Schumer said he recently received a pledge from the Secretary of the Navy, Ray Mabus: "The federal government will do all it can to protect those who live and work in Calverton, as well as wildlife in the area, from the pollution," as was quoted in Riverhead's News~Review. But talk is cheap. Let's listen to the language of another Navy spokesperson, Jim Brantley, who now says that the Navy is intent on returning the land around the Calverton plant, as much as possible, to the way it was in the 1950s. "As long as it takes," Mr. Bradley pledged. Yet the Navy has been monitoring the plume since the 1990s, maintaining that the toxic compounds have been dissipating naturally as they flow away from the Grumman property via a process called natural attenuation. The fluid body has been running its course for better than half a century! In less than a week, I've learned that the plume, which was recently reported to be at least a quarter of a mile wide, is now known to extend better than a third of a mile. Additionally, the volatile substances run half a mile south of the plant and have found their way into the banks of the Peconic River. I'm not optimistic concerning the outcome. I see procrastination in the picture. I hear rhetoric. Allow me to illustrate by positing deferred measures that are sure to follow:
The Navy's remedial project manager, Lora Fly, who oversees the federal cleanup efforts at the Calverton site, said that the Navy's goal with regard to the contaminated (toxic) groundwater "is to reach levels that are in the [state] regulations. The overall goal is to do that," she continued. "But just like anything else, you're going to have to do it in stages. I'm not saying by tomorrow we're going to have that done, but that's the overall goal, and we will be working toward that goal."
"Small technical meetings," will follow in the fall, it is reported. That is five weeks away. Why not earlier? When in the fall will these meetings commence (in the middle of the season or at its end)? Of course, meetings will be followed by a "Corrective Measures Study--or studies," which will "evaluate the feasibility and potential benefits of various remedial alternatives for the plume," writes an Albany-based Departmental of Environmental Conservation engineer geologist.
And so it shall continue (meeting and studies, compromises and concessions), ad infinitum, is my pessimistic outlook. I truly hope I'm wrong, but I rarely am mistaken, for I've been dealing with federal, state and local governments for more years than the Navy has been polluting the Peconic River. Action speaks louder than words
Postscript: Abraham Mertens, Red Room's Vice President and General Counsel, was kind enough to lend support to my thesis in Part1 of 4 (A Toxic Plume & A Serial Killer Thriller) regarding the United States Navy's debacle. Mr. Merten says:
I agree that it's terribly sad and wrong that the Navy polluted so many beautiful rivers icluding the Peconic. In high school, I was a Sea Scout, and we had our base on an old Navay base in Oakland. After high school I learned that all the soil around the docks was completely polluted and unusable.
It's hard to believe but I don't think people realized or cared much until the '60s what damage they were doing by dumping heavy metals and other chemicals into the water.
Your story line sounds very interesting.
All the best,
Abraham Mertens, redroom.com
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