Great Kills Park Environmental Cleanup Project
Great Kills Park comprises approximately 523 acres in the vicinity of the Raritan and Lower Bays of Great Kills Harbor, in the borough of Staten Island. Between 1934 to 1951, City of New York Department of Parks administered the Marine Park Project to develop the Great Kills Harbor as a shorefront recreation area. From 1944-1948 the City used waste material to fill in the wetlands and increase the useable land footprint which was common practice at the time. The City operated Great Kills as a City park until it was transferred to the National Park Service (NPS) in 1972 and became part of the Staten Island Unit of Gateway National Recreation Area.
Elevated levels of radioactivity were first discovered in Great Kills Park in 2005 during an aerial survey conducted by New York City Police Department to develop a baseline radiological map of the city. From 2005-2007, additional areas of elevated radioactivity, subsequently determined to be radium-226, were found within Great Kills Park. In response to these discoveries, the NPS, under the authority of the Comprehensive Environmental, Response, Compensation and Liability Act ("CERCLA"), took actions to determine the extent of radiological contamination and identify and implement short term measures to protect public health and the environment until a permanent remedy is selected and implemented. Between 2007 and 2009, the NPS completed a Preliminary Assessment, excavated and removed seven locations of radioactive contamination and closed the site to the public to prevent exposure to elevated levels of radioactivity.
The NPS has determined that this radiological contamination is not limited to discrete items, such as discarded radium needles, contrary to early speculation. Rather, it is now apparent that there are a variety of items that are the source of elevated radioactivity comingled with other waste-fill material that was placed on the Site when it received municipal waste in the 1940s. In addition, there is reason to believe that this waste material included chemical contaminants of concern and not just radiological contaminants.
NPS currently is developing the work plans to continue the Remedial Investigation within the rest of the Site, referred to as Operable Unit 2 (OU2). OU2 field activities will be similar to those performed in OU1 and will include: investigations to determine the extent of waste fill, additional radiological surveys, and sampling of environmental media, such as soil, groundwater, sediment, and surface water. The RI Report will characterize impacted areas of Great Kills Park and will include human health and ecological risk assessments. The results presented in the RI Report will provide a basis for evaluating cleanup alternatives in a Feasibility Study to ensure site conditions are protective of human health and the environment and allow for the continued use of Great Kills Park by the community for recreational purposes. NPS will then develop a Proposed Plan for public review and comment, which will outline the preferred cleanup alternative identified for Great Kills Park. Public feedback will be taken into consideration prior to the identification of the selected remedy, which is documented in a Record of Decision. Once the Record of Decision has been finalized, the remedial design will be developed and a remedial action will be implemented in all areas of Great Kills Park determined to require cleanup.
Community Involvement is a very important part of the CERCLA process. In 2011, a public information session was held and community input helped shape the development of a Community Involvement Plan (CIP) for the Great Kills Park Site. The CIP and other documents that will be considered or relied up on the in the selection of a response action for this site are part of the site's Administrative Record file. The Administrative Record is available for public review at the Great Kills Branch of the New York Public Library, 56 Giffords Lane, Staten Island.
As the NPS implements the CERCLA process, there will be many other opportunities for the public to be involved in the process.
To stay informed you can:
Last updated: January 17, 2018