Spring Creek Park Environmental Cleanup Project


Current Investigation

The National Park Service (NPS) started a Remedial Investigation (RI) at Spring Creek in the spring of 2023. Field investigation activities were halted due to vandalization of government and contractor property. There is no current timeline for resumption of activities.

A 70-acre area will be cleared of vegetation to conduct these activities. The Spring Creek site will be closed to visitors in advance of these field activities. Not only does the operation of heavy equipment needed to clear the vegetation at the site present a physical hazard to visitors, but the vegetation clearing will increase the potential for visitors to come in direct contact with radiological contamination. As further investigations proceed, NPS will continue to evaluate data on the nature and extent of contamination at the site. This will help inform future management decisions, including public access. Areas with elevated readings will be further evaluated with specialized equipment to inform the sources of any elevated readings.

NPS will monitor outdoor air during the planned environmental investigations at Spring Creek Park to ensure that contamination is not mobilized from the Site during fieldwork. Airborne contamination has not been detected during air monitoring performed to support environmental investigations at other parks with a similar operational history to Spring Creek Park (i.e., Great Kills Park).

FAQ- Spring Creek

Aerial View of Spring Creek
Aerial View of Spring Creek


Site Background

Spring Creek Park, located in the Borough of Queens, New York City, NY, is a 237-acre area managed by the National Park Service (NPS) as part of the Jamaica Bay Unit of Gateway National Recreation Area. The entirety of Spring Creek Park includes filled/reclaimed land composed of dredged material, waste fill, and ash that was deposited from 1948 to the early 1960s as part of “land modification” projects and when the site was owned and operated by the City of New York as a waste disposal area. Most of the waste filling by the City occurred between 1949 and 1957. From the late-1950s to the late-1960s/mid-1970s, sewage sludge was mixed with clay and used as a soil amendment (artificial topsoil) to cover the ground surface after the completion of waste disposal activities. In the early 1970s, the site was transferred from the City to the United States for inclusion within the NPS, Gateway National Recreation Area. Previous investigations conducted at the Site by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) and the United States Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) as part of planning for possible habitat restoration and coastal storm risk management projects identified chemical contaminants in site soils including pesticides, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), and various metals. In December 2017, as a public safety measure, NPS conducted a limited gamma radiation walkover survey of NPS-maintained park fire roads that allow for pedestrian access. The survey was conducted due to the historical similarities of the site with that of the Great Kills Park Site, a site within Gateway where radiological contamination was found and determined to be associated with waste disposal operations analogous to those conducted at SCP. The survey identified elevated levels of radiation, including five man-made radiological artifacts that were recovered and removed from Spring Creek Park.


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 Spring Creek 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 Spring Creek 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.


Environmental Investigations

In 2017, NPS initiated response actions pursuant to its cleanup authority under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA), also referred to as Superfund, to investigate the nature and extent of contamination resulting from NYC's historical sanitation operations at the Spring Creek. The NPS is the CERCLA "lead agency" for the site, so plans the site investigation and cleanup actvities. Since 2017, NPS has initiated and completed several CERCLA investigations at the site. Based on these investigations, NPS determined in the fall of 2020 that it was necessary to initiate CERCLA remedial actions at the site, specifically a Remedial Investigation (RI), to address the data gaps not addressed in prior investigations.

In February 2022, limited radiological surveys were performed at the site in areas that had been opened after NPS cleared vegetation to maintain fire roads. Three radiological hotspots of concern were idenitified within the cleared area. As a protective measure, NPS immediately placed steel plates over the hotspots, which reduced radiation exposure rates to background levels at each location.


Next Steps

As further investigations proceed, NPS will continue to evaluate data on the nature and extent of contamination at the site to inform future management decisions, including public access.

Community Involvement

Community Involvement is an important part of the NPS CERCLA process. NPS has established an information repositories have been established in the location identified below and house copies of the Spring Creek Park Administrative Record file (SCP AR file). CERCLA administrative records files consist of those documents that form the basis for the form the basis for the selection of site cleanup actions. The SCP AR File currently includes documents associated with Site historical information and prior environmental investigations. The SCP AR File will be updated periodically as new information and reports are finalized.The public can view a copy of the SCP AR File at the Queens Library – Howard Beach Branch. To view the SCP AR File, see library staff at the Reference Desk, who will provide you with a USB flash drive containing the SCP AR File that can be viewed on library computers.

Here is a downloadable version of the Community Involvement Plan.

Spring Creek Park Information Repositories

Queens Library - Howard Beach Branch

92-06 156 Avenue
Howard Beach, NY 11414
Phone (718) 641-7086
Hours of Operation
Monday and Friday 10 pm - 6 pm
Tuesday 1 pm - 6 pm, Wednesday 10 am - 6 pm
Thursday 12 pm - 8 pm Saturday 10 am - 5 pm
Sunday - Closed

For More Information

Please email any questions you have to: gate_springcreekcleanupproject@nps.gov or call our Public Affairs Office at (718) 815-3651. Additional information and project updates are available through the Gateway Remediation Environmental Cleanup link on the Park’s website (Gateway National Recreation Area (U.S. National Park Service) (nps.gov)). Below is a downloadable version of FAQ and the November 2022 Community Update.

Frequently Asked Questions

Community Update Nov 22

Last updated: December 29, 2023

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Contact Info

Mailing Address:

210 New York Avenue
Staten Island, NY 10305


718 354-4606

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