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Contact: Brian Feeney, 718-354-4606
The National Park Service has begun the task of removing a small amount of soil that contains trace amounts of radioactive material from Great Kills Park on Staten Island. The scope of the work, scheduled to be completed by January 9, includes five sites where a total of one (1) cubic yard of soil will be removed for appropriate disposal. The project is being done in conjunction with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, and the US Environmental Protection Agency.
In September, 2006 the NYPD and the US Department of Energy released data that they had collected by aerial survey on “radiological hot spots” in New York City. Included in this data was an unexplained reading in a densely vegetated area of Great Kills Park that was not accessible to the public. As a precaution, the National Park Service fenced off the area and initiated plans to bring in outside experts for a more detailed investigation. Over a two year period the park received assistance from the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, the US Environmental Protection Agency, the New
York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, the NYPD, and the US Department of Energy. As part of the investigation, ground surveys were conducted and additional sites were discovered. All of these sites were similar to the first: very low levels of radiation detected, and no site was located in a high visitor-use area. It is believed that the subterranean source of the radiation was probably from remnants of old industrial machinery that was dumped in the park when it was created by New York City in the 1930’s.
The Great Kills Park construction project was directed by famed New York City Parks Commissioner Robert Moses.
Dave Taft, Acting Superintendent of Gateway’s Staten Island Unit, noted that “Although the levels of radiation detected at Great Kills Park are safe by federal standards, the National Park Service will remove these contaminants from the site. We made this commitment after the initial discovery of the material and this week’s actions are a result of that promise. Public safety is our first priority.”