Community Relations Program
1. Overview of Community Relations Program
As part of the Navy's Environmental Restoration Program, the Navy is addressing sites at Naval Weapons Station (NWS) Earle associated with past disposal practices of municipal and industrial wastes, historic spills, and releases of hazardous materials. The purpose of these efforts is to determine the nature and extent of environmental impact, evaluate remedial alternatives, and take remedial actions, if necessary.
This Community Relations Program (CRP) outlines activities conducted during the Remedial Investigation/Feasibility Study (RI/FS) and Remedial Design/Remedial Action (RD/RA) phases of the ER Program. The remedial investigation is designed to obtain and characterize site information needed to identify, select, design, and implement remedial actions.
The CRP was developed in accordance with community relations requirements under the Comprehensive Environment Response, Compensation and Liability Act of 1980 (CERCLA) as amended by the Superfund Amendments and Reauthorization Act of 1986 (SARA) and Navy guidance.
Specific objectives of this CRP are to:
- Provide a means by which public concerns can be addressed and information can be disseminated throughout the studies and be used to evaluate the impact of proposed remedial actions on the community;
- Provide a mechanism for incorporating public comments into the process in a timely and meaningful way;
- Provide accurate, timely and understandable information to affected and interested parties and the media; and
- Modify the CRP as necessary to respond to community concerns.
In particular, the CRP for NWS Earle should enlist the support and cooperation within the communities of Colts Neck, Wall, Howell, Tinton Falls, and Middletown.
Community interest in the site is low at the present time. This program will help prepare the command for any possible increase in the level of interest and educate the local community to better understand the process.
The land area under study is within NWS Earle's boundaries. As such, the authority to respond as the lead agency to any potential contamination problem currently rests with the Department of Defense (DoD), as designated by CERCLA.
2. Implementation Responsibility
The Commanding Officer, NWS Earle, is responsible for implementing the CRP. The Naval Facilities Engineering Command Remedial Project Manager's Office, located in Norfolk Virginia, provides additional consultation and technical assistance.
3. Capsule Site Description
NWS Earle is in an area of low relief located within the Outer Coastal Plain. The station is divided into two parts, the Mainside Area located in Colts Neck, and the Waterfront Area, located in Leonardo. Three major watersheds, the Shark, Manasquan, and Swimming Rivers originate on the Mainside Area of the station. The station is part of the New Jersey Atlantic Coastal Plain, a geological formation consisting of a sequence of thick, unconsolidated Cretaceous to Quaternary sand and clay deposits overlaying a pre-Cretaceous bedrock complex. The Mainside Area contains outcrops of the Hornerstown Sand, the Vincentown Formation, and the Cohansey Sand. The Waterfront Area of the station contains outcrops of the Wenonah Formation, Navesink Formation and Red Bank Sands.
Three of the streams draining portions of the station are tributaries to rivers used for surface water reservoirs. The northwest corner of the station drains into Mine Brook, which flows to the Swimming River Reservoir. The southeast portion of the station drains to the Shark River, a water source for the Glendola Reservoir. The Manasquan River, draining south from the Base, is a source of water for the Manasquan River reservoir in Howell Township. Surface water drainage from the Waterfront Area enters Sandy Hook Bay directly and through Compton, Ware, and Wagner Creeks. The Mainside Area is also a recharge area for the Vincentown and Kirkwood aquifers. The direction of groundwater flow is from the recharge areas to the east and southeast.
Other Monmouth County contaminated sites located in the vicinity of NWS Earle are listed on the “Known Contaminated Sites in New Jersey List”. The list is available from the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection.
Site History: NWS Earle was commissioned in 1943. The station was most active during World War II when a large portion of the ammunition and explosives used in the European theater of operations was shipped from this facility. The station loaded over 731,000 tons of ammunition on vessels during that time. Following World War II, activities at the station decreased in response to lessening demands for munitions. The principal mission of NWS Earle to receive, store, segregate and issue ordnance, has remained relatively unchanged since those years. In addition to ordnance operations, the station hosts non-ordnance related tenant operations and various support functions (supply, fleet maintenance, and public works).
Historic sources of contamination on the Base have included waste solvents, blasting grit or shot, paints and metals and explosives from unserviceable munitions, as well as trash, such as packing material, lumber, and rags. Because most ordnance paint removal used grit or shot blasting, solvents are present only as paint thinners or for equipment cleaning. Metals and explosives from unserviceable munitions are largely recoverable through Defense Logistics Agency and military sales. Wastes from non-ordnance operations included a broader range of waste types, such as oils and small amounts of pesticides, oil and lead-based paints, solvents, degreasers, acids, metal scrap, and dunnage.
Although current waste disposal methods at NWS Earle are in accordance with environmental protection laws, past disposal methods, which were widely used and acceptable at the time, included the burial of waste in landfills. It has since been recognized that this method can cause long-term problems through the release of pollutants into the soil and ground water.
In response to the growing awareness of site contamination from past waste disposal practices, Congress directed the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to develop a comprehensive national program to manage past disposal sites. This program is outlined in CERCLA.
The DoD named this program the Installation Restoration Program, now referred to as the Environmental Restoration (ER) Program and instructed the services to comply with these CERCLA guidelines. The ER Program is designed to identify, report, and correct environmental deficiencies at DoD installations. The full ER Program process includes the following steps:
- The Preliminary Assessment/Site Investigation (PA/SI). The purpose of the PA/SI is to evaluate the seriousness of any hazardous substance release, or threat of release, and to recommend additional response action at the site. As a result, no action may be taken if available data indicate no threat or potential threat to public health or the environment. Alternatively, the best response action may be an immediate removal of the threat or potential threat. The PA/SI therefore, establishes the priority for scheduling a site inspection by characterizing the site. The PA process at NWS Earle began in 1981.
- The Remedial Investigation/Feasibility Study (RI/FS). During this part of the ER Program extensive on-site investigations take place, including physical and analytical monitoring to quantify the extent of the problem and alternatives are developed for possible corrective measures.
- The Remedial Action Plan is evaluated and implemented if findings from the previous findings of the ER Program warrant such action.
4. Community Background
Community Profile: NWS Earle borders the Monmouth County New Jersey townships of Colts Neck, Wall, Howell, Tinton Falls, and Middletown. Monmouth County has both a higher per capita personal income ($48,959) and a higher median household income ($95,699) than the State average. Colt Neck's median household income ($162,115) is fifth among the towns in Monmouth County. (Source: 2014-2018 American Community Surveys, U.S. Census Bureau) Also, according to the American Community Surveys, median housing value is $408,400 for Monmouth County, $763,200 for Colts Neck, $347,600 for Tinton Falls, $491,900 for Wall, $331,500 for Howell, and $411,600 for Middletown.
Community Concerns: Publicity about potentially hazardous waste sites at NWS Earle peaked in September of 1984 when it was announced that the station was about to be added to the National Priorities List (NPL). Concern at that time centered on the nature and extent of environmental impacts to the NWS Earle property and to surrounding communities: whether landfill sites were near streams, whether surface water sampling was being done, what the sizes and location of the sites were, and whether people were working in the areas listed as contaminated. These questions were raised by the media, and answered in detail.
No significant concerns regarding site contamination have been raised since that time, and none were voiced during the community interviews held in conjunction with the development of the original draft of this program. The majority of people interviewed had little or no knowledge about NWS Earle’s ER Program sites. All interviewees were pleased with the Navy’s proactive approach of informing area residents of activities in conjunction with the ER Program and plans for keeping them informed as we go through the ER Program process. Specific concerns have been raised and addressed at the periodic Restoration Advisory Board (RAB) meetings. Further, minutes of these meetings are contained in the administrative record at NWS Earle. Due to lack of public interest and continued close out of ER Program sites, RAB meetings are no longer held, however, concerned citizens now have opportunities to address any concerns at site-specific public meetings.
5. Highlights of the Community Relations Program
The community relations program for NWS Earle is designed to provide information to the public and the media on a timely basis, and to encourage public involvement in the program. It is intended to be flexible so that, as community information needs evolve and change, the community relations program can be revised. This CRP helps strengthen the credibility of NWS Earle as a responsible neighbor, both with local citizens and governmental agencies.
Public meetings are held when a draft Record of Decision is prepared or there is significant information regarding the ER Program that warrants dissemination to the public. Public notice of the meetings is made in local newspapers. Subjects covered can include status of all ongoing studies and remedial actions, as well as discussion of possible remedial alternatives for sites determined to require remediation.
NWS Earle strives to provide timely, concise, and easily understood information to interested, parties and the media. The schedule, purpose and results of technical activities are readily available to the public. Inquiries are handled quickly, courteously, and consistently. Information regarding the ER Program will be presented in an easily understood and non-technical format. Finally, to ensure that inquiries from the media are handled efficiently and consistently, the Public Affairs Officer (PAO) has been designated as the spokesperson and single point of contact.
6. Information Resources
The PAO will be the key contact for project inquiries and questions. The PAO is the central information source and will help build trust between the agency and citizens.
The PAO will keep a logbook of all citizens' requests and comments, and how each one was handled. This activity will ensure that an institutional memory continues after the study has been completed. It will also assist new team members in learning about the level of community involvement.
An information repository has been established at the Eastern Branch of the Monmouth County Library, 1001 Route 35, Shrewsbury, NJ 07702. Telephone: (866) 941-8188. Hours: Mon., Tues., Wed., Thurs., 9-9, Fri., Sat., 9-5, Sun. 1-5, except during July, August or holiday weekends.
The following information is included in the repository:
- The Community Relations Program
- Documentation of site sampling reports
- Remedial Investigation (RI) Reports
- Feasibility Study (FS) Reports
- The responsiveness summaries to FS reports
- The signed Record of Decision (ROD) documents
- Remedial Design documents and more.
In addition to the physical document repository shown above, documents are available electronically via the Administrative Record File. See the Administrative Records tab for additional information related to the Administrative Record File as well as a link to the site.
The PAO will maintain and update a mailing list of interested citizens. Local businesses near the Base, interested groups, and local residents or property owners will be added to the list upon expressed interest.
Public Comments and Public Meeting:
A public comment period of at least 30 days is required for review of any Proposed Remedial Action Plan (Proposed Plan). The Proposed Plan identifies the remedy selected by the Navy and provides information to the public so they can comment on the proposed remedy. During this public comment period, a meeting is scheduled to obtain comments. The meeting will be scheduled during the evening and focus on soliciting comments from the public.
Anyone having further questions concerning this program, please write to:
Public Affairs Officer
Naval Weapons Station Earle
201 Route 34
Colts Neck, NJ 07722
or call (732) 866-2171