Coast Guard Yard receives preliminary debris site test results for “The Grove”

Coast Guard Headquarters NewsBALTIMORE — The Coast Guard Yard has voluntarily reported and investigated a site containing potentially contaminated soil in the southeast portion of the base.

Soil erosion during heavy rains uncovered what appeared to be construction and demolition debris in the “Grove Site” at the southeast portion of the base. The debris appears to date from the World War II era, when land disposal of solid waste was a legal and common practice.

Preliminary testing did not find anything that would pose an immediate risk to Yard employees or the public. However, out of an abundance of caution the Yard has temporarily suspended fishing and crabbing activities at a small pier in the immediate vicinity of the site.

After preliminary testing confirmed the presence of buried debris and contaminants, the Yard notified the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE). In consultation with the EPA and MDE, the Coast Guard hired a certified environmental testing firm to determine both the nature and extent of the buried debris and contaminants.

Preliminary test results are still undergoing validation, however, the Coast Guard is releasing the information publicly as part of the service’s commitment to public safety and transparency.

“The Yard has been a bedrock of the community since the shipyard was founded in 1899 and many members of the Yard’s workforce live in the local community,” said Capt. Matt Lake, commanding officer of the base. “The Yard is committed to environmental protection. As a steward of the public trust, the Yard will work collaboratively and transparently with the EPA, MDE and the public to assure a healthy environment for its employees and neighbors as well as to protect the ecosystem of the nearby Chesapeake Bay.”

The initial investigation found the debris to be contained in an area approximately one-third of an acre on the southernmost portion of the Grove. The primary contaminants were a variety of metals, found in both the soil and groundwater. Also, poly-aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and one instance of a pesticide were found in the soil, but do not appear to have entered the ground water. Preliminary results of that investigation are posted online here..

Moving forward, the Coast Guard will use this site to provide ongoing public updates, including release of the final test results when available, as well as cleanup plans and other relevant information. The immediate next steps are to validate the data from both the Coast Guard’s preliminary testing and the more extensive follow-up investigation. The validated data will be provided to EPA, MDE and the public and used to determine if site remediation or land use controls are necessary.

The Coast Guard remains committed to cleaning up contamination found anywhere on Coast Guard property. The Yard, in particular, maintains the overarching goal of ridding the entire 113-acre campus of any historic contamination.

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