By Jeffrey C. Doepp, Naval Facilities Engineering Command Mid-Atlantic Public Affairs
NORFOLK (NNS) -- Naval Facilities Engineering Command (NAVFAC) Mid-Atlantic held its 42nd Restoration Advisory Board (RAB) for Naval Weapons Industrial Reserve Plant (NWIRP) Bethpage, New York, April 18, at the Bethpage Community Center in the Town of Oyster Bay.
The Navy-hosted RAB, which began in 1999 is open to the public. Meeting twice a year, it serves as a forum for the exchange of information between the Navy and the local community on NWIRP Bethpage Environmental Restoration Program activities.
"The role of the RAB is to educate the public about ongoing projects," said NAVFAC Mid-Atlantic Remedial Project Manager and RAB member Lora Fly. "It's through these RAB meetings that the public is provided information on environmental issues and cleanups being conducted, and is an important part of our community outreach."
The RAB includes community members, city water districts, Navy representatives, agents from the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, the New York State Department of Health and the Nassau County Department of Health.
NWIRP Bethpage was a 109-acre government-owned, contractor-operated facility under the jurisdiction of Naval Air Systems Command and its predecessor commands. It was operated by Northrop Grumman and its predecessors, including Grumman Aircraft Engineering Corporation from 1942 until manufacturing operations ceased in 1996.
"The primary mission of NWIRP Bethpage was to research, design, build and test military aircraft in support of our national defense," Fly said. "Historic storage and/or disposal practices at NWIRP Bethpage resulted in groundwater contamination in the local area."
By February 2008, the U.S. Navy transferred most of the property to Nassau County, New York for economic redevelopment but retained a nine-acre portion to complete environmental investigation and cleanup activities under the Navy Environmental Restoration Program (ERP).
The Navy ERP conducts its environmental cleanup work under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA), the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act and the Defense Environmental Restoration Program.
"The Navy is the lead agency for the CERCLA cleanup," Fly said. "The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, with assistance from the New York State Department of Health, is the lead state agency providing regulatory support for the Navy. In addition, the U.S. Geological Survey contributes technical support on groundwater issues."
The ERP is a Department of the Navy (DON) initiative to identify, investigate and clean up former waste disposal sites on military property. The program's objectives are to reduce the risk to human health and the environment from waste disposal operations and hazardous material spills in a cost-effective manner.
A clean, healthy environment is essential to supporting the DON's primary mission of maintaining fleet readiness. Although past activities have resulted in the release of contaminants into the environment, the DON is committed to cleaning up these sites in an effective and efficient manner. To accomplish cleanup, the DON's environmental restoration team encourages and supports partnerships among various stakeholders, including state and federal regulators, American Indian tribes and local communities.
NAVFAC Mid-Atlantic provides facilities engineering, public works and environmental products, and services across an area of responsibility that spans from Georgia to Maine and as far west as Indiana. As an integral member of the Commander, Navy Region Mid-Atlantic team, NAVFAC Mid-Atlantic provides leadership through the Regional Engineer organization to ensure the region's facilities and infrastructure are managed efficiently and effectively.