2003 CPEO Military List Archive

From: CPEO Moderator <cpeo@cpeo.org>
Date: 28 Jul 2003 15:49:32 -0000
Reply: cpeo-military
Subject: [CPEO-MEF] Navy ready to transfer last base land
South Carolina
Navy ready to transfer last base land
Cost of effort to find, clean up pollution put at $70 million
By Terry Joyce
Saturday, July 26, 2003

After more than 10 years of study and work, the U.S. Navy now says it's
finally ready to transfer ownership of the last 565 acres of property at
the former Charleston Naval Base, thanks in large part to roughly $70
million in federal funds that have either been spent or obligated to
find pollution and clean it up.

The time involved, and especially that $70 million price tag, have
raised a few eyebrows. Whether the cost was justified depends on whom
you ask.

"We've made some significant improvements" said Tony Hunt, an
environmental engineer who's worked on cleanup at the 1,600-acre former
base throughout the last decade. The cleanup effort was the first of its
kind for the Navy on this large a scale, at a place the Navy called home
for almost 100 years.

Hunt works for Southern Division, Naval Facilities Engineering Command,
in North Charleston. Southern Division became the landlord for the old
base after the Navy quit using it as a military installation in 1996.
The division also has become what the Navy calls a "center of
excellence" in the field of military base cleanups.

The Navy never found a disaster-in-the-making like New York's infamous
Love Canal, but there were enough problems to warrant the cleanup
efforts, Southern Division spokesman Jim Beltz said last week.

The work included "literally tens of thousands of samples taken from 412
sites and the removal of thousands of cubic yards of dirt," he said.

The cleanup is important, not only for the environment but because it
means the Navy finally feels comfortable transferring ownership of the
565 acres it still owns by the end of this summer. The Charleston Naval
Complex Redevelopment Authority, or RDA, will take possession first
because the Navy agreed early on to give it to no one else. But what
happens to some of the property, especially the old shipyard, is still
at issue.

In the meantime, the $70 million outlay bothers Lou Mintz, a 10-year
member of the Charleston Naval Complex Restoration Advisory Board, or
RAB, and a current member of the RDA.

The Navy created the RAB in 1993 to get input from the community on its
cleanup efforts. It had no decision-making authority, but its members
could keep track of what the Navy was doing.

"I think they've left it (the base) in good shape," Mintz said last
week, "but I think they spent a lot of money just to make sure no one
can come back later and say they missed something."

Mintz gives the Navy exceptionally good marks when it comes to cleanup
in the shipyard, where for 30 years Navy employees removed and replaced
the nuclear fuel on dozens of the nation's submarines.

"That's their shining star," he said. "The nuclear part was declared
clean within 12 months of closure, and I believe it was done right."

Mintz said he also believes the Navy rightfully identified at least five
areas that needed cleanup: a landfill in the southern half of the base,
a former dry cleaners, a processing plant, a battery shop and the ground
beneath the northern edge of the base that was in part polluted by a
nearby privately owned fuel tank farm.

"My only real concern is in the J area, along the Cooper River
waterfront," where reports of unexploded ordnance have persisted since
World War II, Mintz said. "They only went down (searching) about three
or four feet into the mud. That's the only area where I believe they
failed. They didn't go down deep enough."

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