SCHUMER: FOR YEARS, STATEN ISLAND’S GREAT KILLS PARK HAS BEEN CLOSED TO THE PUBLIC WHILE DECADES-OLD RADIOACTIVE CONTAMINATION WAS STUDIED; NOW THAT PHASE ONE REMEDIAL WORK HAS FINISHED, SENATOR CALLS ON FEDS TO FULLY FUND AND EXECUTE PHASE TWO REMEDIAL EFFORTS AT REMAINING 237 ACRES OF PARK SO CLEAN UP CAN FINISH ON SCHEDULE SCHUMER: FOR YEARS, STATEN ISLAND’S GREAT KILLS PARK HAS BEEN CLOSED TO THE PUBLIC WHILE DECADES-OLD RADIOACTIVE CONTAMINATION WAS STUDIED; NOW THAT PHASE ONE REMEDIAL WORK
At Schumer & Donovan’s Request, NPS Recently Expedited & Completed the First Phase of Remedial Work at a Section of Great Kills Park That Overlaps With the Army Corps’ East Shore Sea Wall Project; Completion of This Portion Means That Sea Wall Will Not Be Delayed & Phase Two of Great Kills Remediation is Next Up On NPS To-Do List
Schumer, Donovan Call On Department of Interior to Fully Fund and Begin Phase Two of Remedial Efforts Needed at Great Kills Park; NPS Recently Applied for Competitive ‘Central Hazardous Materials Funding,’ Which Senator Says Should Be Awarded to Great Kills
Schumer to Feds: As a Hazardous Radioactive Site, Great Kills Needs This Funding to Protect Public Health and Return Great Kills to The People of Staten Island
U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer today called on the U.S. Department of Interior (DOI) to fully fund and commence the next phase in the remediation project at Great Kills Park on Staten Island. For several years, 280 acres of Great Kills Park has been closed off to the public while NPS determines the extent and efforts needed to remediate prior contamination. Following Schumer’s and Donovan’s push, NPS prioritized and completed the environmental investigation of a 43-acre section of the site that is adjacent to the proposed East Shore Sea Wall. As a result, NPS is now ready to move forward with investigating the remaining 237 acres of the site and recently applied for competitive funding through the DOI’s Central Hazardous Materials Fund. In a letter to DOI Secretary Zinke, Schumer and Donovan today threw their strong support behind this project and urged the agency to swiftly approve full funding of the park’s request so that the next step in the environmental cleanup process can begin on schedule.
“Now that NPS has completed Phase One of the remedial work, phase two is next on the to-do list and I’m pushing the feds to fully fund and commence Phase Two remediation to return all of Great Kills Park to the people of Staten Island,” said Senator Schumer. “For several years, Great Kills Park has been closed to the public while NPS determines the nature of decades-old contamination. The Department of Interior should fully fund the second phase of remedial work at Great Kills Park so that this necessary project remains on schedule, with the goal of opening the park as soon as safely possible. I will continue to bang the drum as loud as I can until the entirety of Great Kills Park is studied, cleaned up and safe for all Staten Islanders.”
"Families deserve full access to everything Great Kills Park has to offer as early as possible. Consistent federal funding is critical for the remediation effort, which is why we're asking Secretary Zinke to make these investments,” said Rep. Donovan.
BP Oddo said, “For far too long Great Kills Park has remained closed to the public and allowed to become severely overgrown. Staten Islanders lost a vital and formerly thriving recreational outlet and, at the same time, have been forced to deal with a locked up, post-apocalyptic looking eyesore on Hylan Boulevard. It cannot remain that way forever. Thank you to Senator Schumer for taking up this cause and identifying a potential source of funding to finally get this National Park safely remediated so it can once again be enjoyed by Staten Islanders.”
The National Park Service (NPS) at Great Kills Park recently applied for federal funding via the DOI’s competitive Central Hazardous Materials Fund, which would be used towards the preliminary remediation work
Between the years of 1934-1951, the New York City of Department of Parks developed the Great Kills Harbor as a shorefront recreation area as part of their Marine Park Project. During that time, waste material was used by the City to fill in the wetlands and increase the usable land footprint. In 1972, Great Kills was transferred to NPS as part of the Staten Island Unit of Gateway National Recreation Area.
In 2005, elevated levels of radioactivity were discovered in Great Kills Park, which NPS says may have been from the waste material used to increase the park’s usable land foot print. From 2005-2007, radium-226 was found in additional areas of the park.
Under the authority of the Comprehensive Environmental, Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA), NPS has taken actions to determine the extent of the contamination. NPS has identified more than 200 locations of elevated radioactivity throughout the waste fill area of the park. Between 2007-2009, NPS completed a Preliminary Assessment, excavated and removed seven locations of radioactive contamination and closed the site to the public. In 205, NPS completed its Time Critical Removal Action, which included the hotspot removal of 37 locations, a Gamma Walkover Survey and a dose assessment. In 20156, following Schumer’s push, NPS successfully accelerated the investigation of a 43-acre section of the site (Operable Unit 1) so that it would not interfere with the construction planning of the adjacent East Shore Sea Wall.
Now that the preliminary investigation for Operable Unit 1 has been completed, NPS is in the process of moving forward with its Remedial Investigation of the remaining 237 acres of the site (Operable Unit 2) and recently submitted a request for funding through the DOI Central Hazardous Materials Fund (CHF). CHF provides funds for the cleanup of highly contaminated sites within national parks, national wildlife refuges and other Department-managed lands throughout the country. With this funding, NPS at Great Kills will undergo the preliminary work needed to determine the extent of waste fill, perform additional radiological surveys, and sample environmental media (soil, groundwater, sediment, surface water). The results will provide a basis for evaluating cleanup alternatives in a Feasibility Study.
Schumer and Donovan today called on DOI to fully fund the Remedial Investigation work at the remaining portion, Operable Unit 2, of Great Kills Park. Schumer explained that NPS has been awarded CHF funding in the past, however, under the new administration it’s crucial that funding continue to flow. Schumer said that if funding is provided, NPS has said that the Remedial Investigation for Operable Unit 2 will begin in 2018. However, Schumer said that without this funding, the Remedial Investigation at Operable Unit 2 could be left unfunded, further delaying the CERCLA project’s schedule at Great Kills Park.
A copy of Schumer and Donovan’s letter is below:
Dear Secretary Zinke:
I write in support of robust funding for the continuation of a critical remediation project located in the Great Kills Park section of Gateway National Recreation Area. Great Kills Park has not been completely open to the public for years while the extent of prior contamination has been studied and remediated. I applaud the Department of Interior’s (DOI) commitment to this important project over the years and I urge you to swiftly approve full funding of the park’s FY 2018 request, so the next step in the Remedial Investigation can commence.
As you know, Gateway National Recreation Area is a critically important outdoor space for New Yorkers seeking to enjoy activities ranging from trail running, going to the beach to fishing. Over the years, funding allocated by DOI has been crucial to beginning to understand and remediate contamination across this section of the park. Recently, the Remedial Investigation of Operable Unit 1 was completed, and a Draft Final report was filed in June of this year. I applaud the work of NPS to expedite this section, which overlaps with the critical Army Corps of Engineers South Shore of Staten Island Coast Storm Risk Management project. This means that the park is ready to move onto the Remedial Investigation 2, which encompasses the remaining part of Great Kills Park. I urge you to quickly deploy the appropriate resources to ensure that this remediation investigation can remain on schedule, which will allow the contamination of the park to be better understood and subsequently remediated and opened to the public as soon as possible.
I understand that in the current fiscal climate budgets are constrained and, as in the past, I will stand with the National Park Service during the budget process and fight for adequate resources. However, I ask that you fully fund Gateway National Recreation Area’s FY18 request so that this important remediation study can begin as soon as possible and remain on schedule. I look forward to working with you on this important request.
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