It’s aptly described as “The Fiery Marsh,” overlaying 95 acres on the southwest aspect of Naval Air Station North Island. The “fiery” a part of the identify refers to 6 pits within the marshy areas of the island that have been used to burn off chemical compounds used on the Navy base.
A letter despatched in February by the San Diego Regional Water High quality Management Board’s government officer, David Gibson, to the commanding officer at North Island, Capt. Dwight Clemons, asks the Navy”to provoke a proper dispute course of in response to the environmental and water high quality issues on the ‘Fiery Marsh.’”
Merely put, the regional board feels it’s time for the Navy to complete cleansing up the stays from the hearth pits, the place hazardous supplies have been dumped and set on fireplace. This started within the Nineteen Fifties and lasted till 1971.
Over time there have been sporadic makes an attempt to wash up varied sections of the pits. The hazardous refuse mars one of many San Diego area’s most necessary websites for each the navy and the San Diego tourism economic system.
Kevin Dixon, a spokesman for all the Naval Base Coronado complicated, acknowledged that the pits are a priority as a result of the “Navy lives, works, and trains in and across the San Diego Bay. Ensuring that it’s secure is a Navy precedence.”
Over time the Navy burned quite a lot of nasty solvents, paints, degreasers, caustic acids and oils. Quite a few research from the Navy and the California’s Division of Poisonous Substances Management reported “important releases” of hazardous wastes. Additionally discovered whereas testing the soil have been traces of “low-level radioactive waste,” which has since been eliminated.
What’s occurred over time, as described within the letter to the Navy base command, is “the discharge of hazardous wastes to a big open pit, the discharge of hazardous wastes to 4 unlined pits and the discharge and burying of hazardous wastes east and south of the 4 unlined pits.”
The letter additionally notes “the Navy estimates it discharged 300,000 to 800,000 gallons of liquid hazardous wastes per yr” and that the location “acquired as much as 32 million gallons of varied liquid hazardous wastes.”
Dixon mentioned the location “has a sophisticated geological construction. So, rigorously assessing how this construction features is a needed step towards figuring out what remediation would be the handiest”.
The marsh has been a problem for clear water and environmental advocates for years. In 1989 the State of California and the Navy agreed on a partial cleanup recreation plan. Then in 2003 state businesses advised the Navy it confronted various choices to “pursue to wash up the soils and groundwater on the location. That didn’t occur.”
Now, greater than 30 years after the preliminary cleanup plan, push has come to shove because the San Diego Water Board, the California Division of Poisonous Substances, and California Division of Fish and Wildlife are asking the U.S. Navy to wrap up the cleanup, saying “the elimination of the contaminated soils, remediation of the groundwater and cessation of the unpermitted discharge should be addressed.”
What’s taking place now known as a “formal Dispute Decision course of” to advance the cleanup. If no consensus is reached on the native stage, the matter shall be handed over to the federal Environmental Safety Company for a “remaining, binding willpower.”
Thus far, the state and the Navy haven’t resolved their variations on how the work ought to proceed, however Dixon mentioned, “Naval Base Coronado will proceed to work with the State of California to discover a resolution finest suited to addressing the environmental points.”
Information present some contaminated soil has been eliminated, however solely to 6 toes under the floor within the worst areas of contamination. Substantial quantities of hazardous waste and combustion byproducts stay, say the state businesses pushing for the cleanup.
Contaminated groundwater is discharged to the bay, and the contamination extends to 120 toes under the island’s floor. Among the many poisonous chemical compounds nonetheless discovered on the website is 1,1,1-Trichloroethane also called methyl chloroform, a banned ozone-depleting substance that causes human pores and skin irritation.
Ailene Voisin, talking for the State Water Assets Management Board in Sacramento, mentioned the “Fiery Marsh” is one among a number of clean-up websites across the San Diego Bay that California regulates, and “in these instances the accountable events are conducting remedial actions. This contains ongoing agreements to wash up websites at Rohr Industries and Photo voltaic Turbine in addition to at Naval Base San Diego and Naval Base Level Loma.
JW August is a San Diego-based broadcast and digital journalist.