Great Kills Park Environmental Cleanup Project

 

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Current Investigation


The National Park Service (NPS) is conducting a Remedial Investigation at the Great Kills Park Site under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA). Remedial Investigation fieldwork for Operable Unit 1 (OU1) was completed in 2016 and the Remediation Investigation of Operable Unit 2 (OU2) is underway.

 
Map of Remedial Investigation at Great Kills Park
Map of Remedial Investigations at Great Kills Park

National Park Serivce

In 2016, NPS accelerated the investigation of the 43-acre section of Great Kills Park (referred to as OU1), to inform construction planning for the South Shore of Staten Island Coastal Storm Risk Management Project which may be located within or adjacent to OU1. In 2017, NPS finalized a report of the OU1 Remedial Investigation findings. The report is available here and will also be made available to the public in the Great Kills Park Site Administrative Record File.

 
Field Work at OU1 of Great Kills Park
Field Work in Operational Unit 1 at Great Kills Park

NPS Photo

NPS completed Phase 1 and Phase 2 field work associated with the OU2 Remedial Investigation in 2018 and 2021, respectively. Once a thorough investigation of the Great Kills Park Site is complete, NPS plans to combine OU1 and OU2 data into a single, comprehensive site-wide Remedial Investigation Report that documents the nature and extent of contamination and the associated potential risks to human health and the environment. NPS will use the information gathered during the Remedial Investigations at OU1 and OU2 to support a comprehensive Feasibility Study that will include the evaluation of site-wide remedial action alternatives to address environmental impacts.

 
Roller blading and biking on the mutli use path at Great Kills Park
Multi use path at Great Kills Park

National Park Service

Establishment and Public Use of Great Kills Park

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. In 1925 the City of New York initiated a land plan to develop Marine Park (a.k.a. Great Kills Park). The plan involved placement of waste fill to raise the property elevation, fill in the wetlands, and increase the useable land footprint to allow the property to be developed as a city park and shorefront recreation area. Using waste fill for this purpose was common practice at this time. The majority of the waste fill was placed from 1944 to 1948. The City of New York operated Great Kills as a city park until it was transferred to NPS in 1972 and became part of the Staten Island Unit of Gateway National Recreation Area.

Great Kills Park is located on the South Shore of Staten Island. NPS maintains and operates several public recreation facilities including a beach center, hiking and biking trails, fishing areas, a marina and boat launch ramp, and associated parking areas. There is a multi-use path used for walking, jogging, biking, and roller skating, and several grassy areas used for recreational purposes. Several hiking trails are located in the southern portion (Crooke's Point) of the park and bird watching is popular along the shoreline. Swimming beaches are located along the southeastern and southwestern portions of the park. Swimming is only allowed in the lifeguarded beach located south of the bay side of Great Kills Harbor. Nichols Marina is located at the western side of the park.

As a result of the discovery of radiological contamination at the park in 2005 (see Site Background/Environmental Investigations below), the NPS closed portions of the park and restricted public access via fencing. The closed portion of the park was historically used for environmental education, walking, baseball and softball, other athletics, and model airplane flying. The closed area is approximately 282 acres. OU1 is 43 acres (situated within and along the northeastern perimeter of the site) and OU2 is the remaining 239 acres. In 2013 and 2014, the NPS installed additional fencing and three gates at access points to preclude entry. Warning signs are posted every 25 feet along the fence to notify the public of the potential risks associated with the site. Additionally, areas of the park southeast of Hylan Boulevard and north of Great Kills Harbor and approximately 1,000 feet south of Wetland Road are fenced, signed, and identified on area maps as locations closed for safety.


 
Great Kills Park site map- this area is closed to the public for safety reasons
Great Kills Park

National Park Service

Despite the closure of the contaminated area at Great Kills Park, there are many activities that the public can continue to enjoy. Buffalo Road and the multi-use path are open for walking, biking and hiking enthusiasts. Additionally, the swimming beach is open and under lifeguard protection from Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day. Fishing spots abound and the marina and boat launch ramp are available for boaters visiting Great Kills Harbor.

 

CERCLA and NPS Authority

NPS is authorized under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA) to respond as the Lead Agency to a release or threatened release of harmful substances and/or a release of any pollutant or contaminant that may present an imminent and substantial danger to public health or welfare on or from land under the jurisdiction, custody or control of the NPS.

In response to the discovery of radiological contamination at Great Kills Park, NPS, pursuant to CERCLA, took actions to evaluate the extent of radiological contamination and identify and implement short-term measures to protect public health and the environment until a permanent remedy can be selected and implemented.

 
 

NPS moves all contaminated sites located on lands under its jurisdiction through four phases of cleanup. Each phase of cleanup has specific requirements and milestones based on CERCLA (or the applicable authority). At the Great Kills Park Site, cleanup phases and milestones are based on CERCLA and its implementing regulations documented in the National Contingency Plan (NCP). The NCP establishes the structure for responding to releases and threatened releases of hazardous substances. Enabling meaningful community involvement throughout the investigation, selection, and implementation of cleanup activities is an ongoing activity and requirement that reaches across all phases of the NPS Cleanup Framework. The following diagram depicts the NPS approach and key milestones for investigating and cleaning up the Great Kills Park Site.

NPS Cleanup Framework Phases

 
Phase Activity
* Site Assessment
Actual/Anticipated GKP Site CERCLA Milestones
* Preliminary Assessment
* Interim Removal Action
Phase Activities
* Site Investigation Planning
* Site Fieldwork
* Site Analysis
* Cleanup Action Vetting
Actual/Anticipated GKP Site CERCLA Milestones
* Time Critical Removal Action
* HSA/RS
* EIR OU1
* Sampling & Analysis Plan
* EIR OU2
* Remedial Investigation
* Feasbility Study
* Propsed Plan
* Record of Decision
Phase Activities
* Cleanup Action Planning
* Cleanup Action Implementation
Actual/Anticipated GKP Site CERCLA Milestones
* Remedial Design Report
* Construction Completion Report
Phase Activities
* Post Cleanup Action Monitoring
* Five-Year Review Monitoring
* Long-Term Monitoring
Actual/Anticipated GKP Site CERCLA Milestones
* Certificate of Completion
* Final Monitoring/Long-Term Monitoring Report
 
Fenced off area at Great Kills Park
Fenced off area at Great Kills Park

NPS

Site Background/Environmental Investigations

Elevated levels of radioactivity were first discovered at Great Kills Park in 2005 during an aerial survey conducted by the New York City Police Department, which was developing a baseline radiological map of the City. From 2005 to 2007, NPS, working in conjunction with other entities, found additional areas of elevated radioactivity within the park. The source of radioactivity was subsequently determined to be Radium-226.

Between 2007 and 2009, the NPS completed a Preliminary Assessment of the Site and initiated an Interim Response Action in which NPS excavated and removed seven identified locations of radioactive contamination, and closed the site to the public to prevent exposure to elevated levels of radioactivity.

In 2010, NPS initiated a CERCLA Engineering Evaluation/Cost Analysis (EE/CA) at the site to evaluate non-time critical removal action alternatives. In 2012, the EE/CA was put on hold to expedite a CERCLA Time Critical Removal Action (TCRA) and the identification and removal of radiation contamination that posed an immediate risk to human health and the environment.

The TCRA was completed by NPS from 2012 to 2015. By July 2014, NPS had completed a radiological survey of the site (which at that time encompassed 265 acres within the Park) and restricted public access through the installation of over 18,000 feet of perimeter fencing, including four chain link fences. The results of the TCRA demonstrated that radioactive sources were commingled with other waste fill material and distributed throughout areas of the park where former waste disposal had historically occurred. Additionally, there were reasons to believe that the waste fill material included chemical contaminants of concern.

Based upon the results of the TCRA, the NPS determined that a Remedial Investigation/Feasibility Study, pursuant to CERCLA, would be necessary to fully characterize the extent of contamination that may pose a risk to the public and/or the environment and to evaluate permanent remedial alternatives to address the contamination. In July 2015, NPS began scoping the Remedial Investigation activities, including developing a Historical Site Assessment/Records Search (HSA/RS). The purpose of the HSA/RS was to gather historical information about past site operations, environmental investigations, and potential contaminants. Information collected during the HSA/RS is being used to inform the investigation of the site. In 2016, Remedial Investigation field work in OU1 began. The activities conducted and findings of the 2016 investigation are documented in the 2017 OU1 Environmental Investigation Report.

The first phase of the OU2 Remedial Investigation began in 2018. Due to the size and varied historical operations of the site, the goal of this investigation was to better define the extent of waste fill within OU2, evaluate potential releases from historical operations, and inform and optimize the investigation approach for Phase 2 of the OU2 Remedial Investigation. Phase 1 of the OU2 Remedial Investigation is complete and a report of the findings was finalized in December 2019. Phase 2 of the OU2 Remedial Investigation was completed during the summer and fall of 2021; data assessment and generation of a report of findings is underway.

 
Testing for radiological contamination at Great Kills Park
Great Kills Park

National Park Service

The Consultative Workgroup

Recognizing and appreciating that a number of federal, state, and local agencies have an interest in the investigation and cleanup of the Great Kills Park Site, as well as responsibilities for protecting public health and the environment, NPS formed a Consultative Workgroup (CWG) made up of agency representatives. The purpose of the CWG is to share information so that NPS decision-making is informed and transparent among all government shareholders. The CWG provides a forum for sharing technical views of each agency on all aspects of the Remedial Investigation/Feasibility Study process. Through the CWG members have the opportunity to remain informed and to provide input as the investigation proceeds.

 
 
Surveying at Great Kills Park
Surveying at Great Kills Park

NPS PHOTO

Next Steps

NPS completed Phase 2 Remedial Investigation field activities for the remainder of the site (OU2), an area that is five times larger than OU1, in fall 2021. Following completion of the OU2 investigation, a report documenting the field activities will be prepared.

A comprehensive site-wide Remedial Investigation Report will document the results of field investigations for both OU1 and OU2 and the extent to which site contamination presents potential risks to human health and the environment. The results presented in the site-wide Remedial Investigation Report will provide the foundation for how NPS will evaluate cleanup alternatives in the Feasibility Study Report 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 once the remediation is completed. NPS will then develop a Proposed Plan for public review and comment that will outline the preferred cleanup option identified for the site. Public feedback will be sought and considered prior to finalizing the Proposed Plan. The Proposed Plan will be the basis of the Record of Decision (ROD) that will specify the remedial measures to be taken to address site contamination. Once the ROD is finalized, NPS will prepare the Remedial Design and commence Remedial Action in areas of the Great Kills Park Site determined to require cleanup.

 

Community Involvement

Community Involvement in a very important aspect of the CERCLA process. Community involvement ensures that the members of the public affected by a site undergoing investigation and cleanup under CERCLA, such as the Great Kills Park Site, have a say in the process, a right-to-know what the agency, NPS, is doing to address the contamination, and have the opportunity to provide input into the decision-making process. Early and meaningful communication with affected community members is the goal of the community involvement process, which occurs throughout the lifecycle of the NPS Cleanup Framework.

The Community Involvement Plan (CIP) is a resource to enable meaningful community involvement. It serves as a guide for NPS to inform and engage community members, government officials, the media, and other interested parties in the environmental investigation and cleanup activities at the site. As such, it is a living document that is updated and revised as appropriate, as site conditions and events change. The ways in which the NPS encourages communication with the public are described in detail in the CIP. The CIP and other documents that will be considered or relied upon in the selection of a response action to address the contamination at the site are part of the Administrative Record File.

The Administrative Record File is available for public review at two locations:

New York Public Library
Great Kills Branch

56 Giffords Lane
Staten Island, NY 10308

Phone: 718.984.6670
Staten Island Museum -
Environmental Collection

75 Stuyvesant Place
Staten Island, NY 10301

Phone: 718.483.7122

 

Community involvement activities at the Great Kills Park Site commenced in the fall of 2006 through a media advisory notice and a series of news releases, and has continued since then through a variety of mechanisms including site fact sheets/community updates, notices of availability of documents as specified by CERCLA and the NCP, and via letter, e-mail and/or at public meetings. The NPS has conducted direct public outreach, including public meetings and information sessions and provided updates at local Community Board meetings. NPS staff regularly updates members of Community Board 2 and Community Board 3 regarding the investigations and cleanup activities occurring at the Great Kills Park Site. These meetings are open to all members of the public. More information can be obtained by contacting one or both Community Boards.

Community Board 2
460 Brielle Avenue
Staten Island, NY 10314

Website: www.cb2si.com
Phone: 718.317.3235
Community Board 3
1243 Woodrow Road
2nd Floor
Staten Island, NY 10309

Website: www.nyc.gov/sicb3
Phone: 718.356.7900
E-mail: sicb3@cb.nyc.gov

As the Great Kills Park Site investigation and cleanup proceeds pursuant to CERCLA, there will be more opportunities for you to be involved in the process and provide input. In lieu of formal public meetings, you can obtain information and ask questions in a variety of ways.

To stay informed you can:

  • sign up to receive project updates via e-mail. Email us at greatkillscleanup@npsgov to sign up.
  • e-mail questions at any time to greatkillscleanup@nps.gov
  • call the NPS Public Affairs Office at 718-815-3651
  • go to the Site Background/Environmental Investigation section of this page to learn more about the project and how to obtain key documents
  • visit our FAQ page.
 

Last updated: November 9, 2021

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