Published in The Coast Star on January 29, 1998
Web editor note Quoted Below: The process began when the base was “declared excess” in September of 1993, and complete transfer of the land is expected in September of 1999. Our Comment: Really “September 1999”? The actual transfer of the Marconi Buildings and Diana site did not occur until 2004 (five years late), the H-buildings until September 2009 (ten years late) and the river front Marconi Operations buildings until September 2012 (thirteen years late). The Army contractors and staff took advantage of every possible method to delay the transfers to extend their contracts.
Possible Brookdale campus planned at the site
The RAB is a group of 17 Wall Township residents that was established to monitor the transition of the former military installation to the township, as well as its ongoing environmental cleanup.
The 250-acre Camp Evans is being closed in accordance with the Base Realignment and Closure Act of 1990 (BRAC), which closes military installations that are no longer useful and turns them over to municipalities.
The primary concern of the RAB is the environmental cleanup process that is taking place. Representatives of the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and the Federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) also sit on the board to monitor the Army’s clean up of the site.
Following the environmental remediation, the land will be turned over to the township.
The process began when the base was “declared excess” in September of 1993, and complete transfer of the land is expected in September of 1999.
Before the remediation process could begin, the township had to submit a reuse plan, which would then be reviewed by the Army. The reuse plan calls for strictly recreational or educational use of the property, with the bulk of the natural landscape remaining intact. The educational allotment of the land is a possible Brookdale satellite campus, although no specific plans can be made for quite some time. The Army must first complete its cleanup and then turn over the property, at which time construction of facilities can begin.
The plan was accepted by the Army. Base Transition Coordinator Mike Ruane emphasized that the new owners must stick to the plan. If the township zones the new property for residential or commercial development, he said, the government will simply take it back. Meanwhile, buildings are being torn down, soil and water is being tested, and underground storage tanks are being removed. The Army’s BRAC Environmental Coordinator Christopher Kencik, reviewed the progress of the cleanup at Tuesday night’s meeting, providing pictures and details of different sites throughout the camp that require special attention. He said demolition of buildings is continuing and that most will be completely removed before the transition. One of the buildings on the site has been slated for cleanup and preservation,.and may act as an historical information center and museum.
Contamination of soil and structures exists throughout the site, but the cleanup process involves the use of an on-site laboratory that was built as a cost-effective solution to the need for extensive testing.
To date, 3,000 soil and water samples have been taken with a total of 40,000 tests conducted.
Also, numerous wells have been placed throughout the camp to monitor the groundwater, which has been found to be contaminated in several locations. However, Mr. Kencik pointed out that, now that many of the sources of groundwater contamination have been removed, the natural process will take over and contamination will decrease. Of these sources, Mr. Kencik reported that 29 of 36 underground storage tanks have been removed, along with 950 cubic yards of contaminated soil. Five leaking tanks were identified so far.
The cleanup is being performed by the Army Corps of Engineers.
Another source of concern is the site’s radiological complex. Radiation experiments were conducted throughout the history of the base and the entire area has “potential radioactive material contamination.”
Mr. Kencik noted that present regulations regarding allowable levels of radiation are very strict, and the project might take until Dec. 1999 to complete. Allowable radiation levels have been repeatedly reduced throughout the 20th century as its links to health problems have been discovered and confirmed.
Board member Wilma Morrissey said she was “quite impressed” with the Army’s efforts to make the site safe for use. There was some controversy at the meeting regarding the Army’s Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) which was printed in December and was not received by some board members.
John Truman echoed the sentiments of some board members that failure to receive the document was a snub on the part of the Army, but Mr. Kencik maintained that it was an unintentional, regrettable oversight.
Mr. Truman added that he was generally happy with the progress made so far.
The board is in the process of trying to get an extension on the public comment period for the statement, and will discuss it at their next meeting at 7:30 p.m. Feb. 24 in the Wall Municipal Complex basement. The public is welcome to attend.