Published in The Coast Star on April 27, 2000
At Tuesday’s Restoration Advisory Board meeting [RAB], the board rebuked the Army for refusing to remediate the lead-paint laden buildings at Camp Evans before it transfers the properly to Wall Township.
“The Army has declared lead-based paint non-hazardous. Yet the Environmental Protection Agency [EPA] and the rest of country disagree. It seems like the Army is making this stuff up as it goes along,” stated RAB member Jarnes Stigliano.
The board’s inflammatory remarks stemmed from the Army’s Finding of Suitability To Transfer [FOST] document for Parcel E of the camp, which was
introduced to the RAB members and the public at Tuesday’s meeting.
The purpose of the FOST is to document the environmental suitability of Parcel E at Camp Evans for transfer to Wall Township for reuse as baseball and soccer fields, as well as recreational areas. Parcel E consists of 52.26 acres, which is mainly open fields and nine buildings. The area was formerly home to the Antennae Test Field, where the Army conducted tests on communications and electronic equipment and trained its troops in using this equipment, from the 1950’s to the 1980’s.
Upon receiving the document, Mr. Stigliano jumped on section 3.6, which addresses lead-based paint.
This section notes that because all of the buildings were constructed prior to 1978, all of the buildings on the property are presumed to contain lead-based paint. However, because the property is not being transferred for a residential use, the Army will not remove the paint.
The document also points out that lead-paint is not considered a hazardous substance under the Comprehensive Environmental Response Compensation and Liability Act [CERCLA]. ,
“I don’t give a damn whether Parcel E is for residential use or not. Children are going to be using the area, and children are also more susceptible to lead poisoning:’ stated Mr. Stigliano.
He also pointed out that the FOST document goes on to state: “Lead from paint, paint chips, and dust can pose health hazards if not managed properly. The grantee is notified that the property may present exposure to lead from leadbased paint that may place young children at risk of developing lead poisoning. Lead poisoning in young children may produce permanent neurological damage, including learning disabilities, reduced intelligence quotient, behavioral problems, and impaired memory.”
Base Realignment and Closure [BRAC] Environmental Coordinator Chuck Appleby explained that the Army utilizes the standards set out in CERCLA, otherwise known as the Superfund Act, as a guidebook when performing a massive remediation project.
“A lot of thought has gone into drawing up these regulations,” explained Mr. Appleby. “This is the standard text we use when completing a transfer.”
Board member Matthew Durkin explained that the RAB is concerned that the lead-paint chips will make their way into the ground and the recreational fields where children will be playing. “This just seems like a giant loophole for the Army. It just does not sit right with me. The property contains so much lead that it is a threat to kids. This is a giant copout,” stated Mr. Stigliano.
Mr. Stigliano noted that the Army has the responsibility to transfer a a safe reuse facility to the township, as stipulated in its Base Re-Use Manual.
Mr. Appleby reminded the RAB that they could comment on any portion of the FOST, by the end of the month. The comments will then be attached to the official document, along with the Army’s response.
“I would like to make a motion that we make a comment as a group on the lead-paint issue,” stated Mr. Stigliano.
While the RAB expressed its frustration that it was only given until the April 30 to make its comments, the members resolved to meet the following night to draw up their concerns.
Mr. Appleby explained that the comment period on the FOST runs for 30 days, from April 1 through April 30. While the RAB had been notified, it only received a copy of the FOST at Tuesday’s meeting.
The Army declared Camp Evans as surplus property several years ago, and will convey the property to Wall Township after remediation of the site is concluded. Portions of the 208-acre site may also be conveyed
to some non-profit and educational institutions, including approximately 60 acres to Brookdale Community College for a southern campus.
The Army also stated it will not remove asbestos from the buildings, unless the asbestos is friable.
While the RAB members briefly discussed that decision, they decided to concentrate at this point on the lead paint problem.