Great Kills Park radiation hot spots ‘200 times’ greater than normal; Staten Island’s Grimm calls for public forum
Staten Island Advance, December 17th, 2013
STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. — As the National Park Service maintains that a full report on radiation levels in Great Kills Park will be ready in the spring, one elected official is calling for a public forum on the status of the shuttered green space.
Preliminary survey results identified hot spots within the project site which have radiation readings on contact of “200 times typical [normal] background for this area,” said Kathleen Cuzzolino, environmental protection specialist for the NPS and Gateway National Recreation Area, earlier this month.
The NPS did not provide exact results, but said additional tests have not shown radiation in areas that remain open to park visitors.
On Friday, Rep. Michael Grimm reached out to the National Park Service Friday, urging the agency to take “swift action to address the many concerns related to the radiation at Great Kills Park.” He also requested a public meeting.
“The contamination of Great Kills Park is a serious issue, and people need real answers about how and when this will be resolved,” said Grimm. “Families and residents want to return to this recreational area as soon as possible, and I will continue to do everything in my power to make sure this park space can be safely enjoyed by the community once again.”
“Contractors are currently preparing to get back out in the field to complete this phase of the project which includes the completion of the gamma survey and excavation of the hot spots which pose the greatest risk,” said Ms. Cuzzolino.
“Limited surveys have been conducted outside the fence line, including the multi-use path, playground, and bulkhead fishing area, and have not identified any areas with elevated radiation readings,” Ms. Cuzzolino added.
Fieldwork will begin in the next few weeks and run for several months, she said, adding the completion report is expected to be finalized in the spring.
In September, the Advance reported that there was more radiation within the park than initially thought.
The model-airplane field, several ballfields, and the fishing area near Great Kills Harbor are the key sections of the 223 acres closed since 2009.
Grimm (R-Staten Island/Brooklyn) addressed the letter to Gateway National Recreational Area Superintendent Suzanne C. McCarthy, calling for immediate action on the radiation clean-up in the park.
Discussions between Grimm’s office and the NPS indicated that the agency would be amenable to meeting with the public to answer questions and provide information about this matter, said the congressman.
“From my many conversations with NPS on this issue, I am aware of both the seriousness of the contamination and the complexities of the clean-up process,” wrote Grimm. “Clearly, the community needs to have confidence that the threat this contamination poses to public health is being properly addressed and is indeed a top priority for the NPS, and as you can understand, patience is wearing thin for many who have had to deal with this troubling development for many years now.”
The NPS met with the public in fall 2011 to provide them with a plan. The process was unexpectedly stopped due to Hurricane Sandy last year.