Navy, Regulators Agree On Sub Base Clean-up Plan
By Josh Kovner
September 13, 2012
Federal environmental regulators have accepted the Navy's proposal to clean up a large, contaminated site at the submarine base in Groton.
The 102-acre section, laced with PCBs, heavy metals, and other remnants of ship-maintenance operations, has been accumulating toxins since before World War II. The area is on the list of federal Superfund sites – which are some of the most polluted spots in America.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said in a statement Thursday that it worked with state regulators to approve the Navy's plan. The cleanup, expected to start in November 2013, will focus on the removal of contaminated soil and sediment in the southwest portion of the 711-acre submarine base.
The project would be the last of a series of clean-up efforts at the base, at least two of which are underway now.
The EPA, the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, and the Navy, have been working on fashioning remediation projects at the bases for the last 22 years.
The EPA said maintenance of acid-filled ship batteries and other overhaul activities occurred on the 102-acre site until the mid 1950's, and an incinerator operated there until 1967.
A series of tests and studies at the site have identified polyaromatic hydrocarbons, or PAHs; polychlorinated biphenyls, or PCBs; lead, metals and pesticides.
The Navy earlier this year held public hearings on its latest clean-up plan.
The Navy said it would also take the opportunity to clean up state-regulated petroleum waste sites within the Superfund area, the EPA said. The area lies along the Thames River, in the towns of Groton and Ledyard.
Over the years, oil leaked from pipelines that ran from tanks elsewhere on the base. Many of those tanks are gone, but the oil-soaked soil remains, said Mark Lewis of the state DEEP's Bureau of Water Protection and Land Reuse.
Lewis said the oil cleanup isn't technically part of the Superfund project, so a separate plan has to be approved by DEEP.
The clean-up of the PCBs and heavy metals will involve excavation, dredging of sediment, land-use controls, and monitoring of the Thames River.
The EPA said the contaminated area, which includes piers, berths and maintenance facilities, was added to the Superfund list in 1990.