Brownfields Update

As we discussed in last month’s issue of Flow, the monthly newsletter of the Shinnecock Nation Environmental Department, the Brownfields Project mission is to improve the quality of those sections of the Shinnecock property that may have been environmentally degraded by the presence or potential presence of a hazardous substance, pollutant, or contaminant.  We interviewed 35 members of the Shinnecock Community to gather their knowledge about the history of the Shinnecock dump.  A brief summary of the responses to two questions in our April to May Survey follows.   The about the worst contaminants disposed of at the dump and a summary of potential future uses for the dump following its cleanup follows.

The first two questions that are summarized in this newsletter are “Are you aware of any toxic chemicals being disposed in the dump?”.  These response and the responses to “What is the worst thing that was disposed at the dump?”  Were combined in the following summary.  The most frequent contaminant identified by the interviewees was motor oil, followed by lead paint, Temik (Aldicarb) and other pesticides and antifreeze.   Although none of the interviewees witnessed the disposal of Temik in the dump, several interviewees were aware of the past groundwater issues and some were concerned about the potential that apparently empty Temik containers could have been disposed at the dump and washed into the groundwater.  

To address the Temik concerns the Suffolk County Department of Health Services Office of Water Resources was contacted for an update on the most recent Temik (Aldicarb) concentrations in potable water wells within the Shinnecock Nation territory.  Forty two (42) wells from 33 locations were sampled between from 1998 – 2012.  All had no detections of Aldicarb, or its breakdown products (Aldicarb sulfoxide or Aldicarb sulfone).  Also, in a cooperative study with the USGS in 2014, Suffolk County installed seven wells to study groundwater flow on the site, including one downstream from the dump.  All seven were sampled for Aldicarb (and the breakdown products).   All had no detections. 

The second question that is summarized in this newsletter is “What is your opinion of a good use for the post-cleanup dump property?”.   The 35 Interviewees proposed 39 potential uses for the post-cleanup former dump property.  The proposed potential uses of the dump are listed in order of the number of interviews that recommended a particular proposed use, from the most frequent to the least frequent.  Use of the post-cleanup dump for various waste control activities was the most common. The second most frequently proposed future use of the property was for the construction of a natural wetland sewage treatment plant.  Four proposed uses of the post-cleanup dump property each received three recommendations – a shooting range, licensed medical marijuana, mulch production, and raising livestock.  Two proposed uses of the property each received 2 recommendations – natural or reforesting, as necessary, to allow the property to return to its natural state, and using the property as an Operations Center for maintenance equipment and personnel, and waste containers.  Eight additional potential uses each received 1 recommendation – sweat lodge, disposal of yard debris only, construction of a Community Office building, farming, and a tribal garden. 

Two noteworthy additional recommendations not directly related to how the remediated property would be used, but rather how the remediation process and the Nation’s lands in general should be conducted and treated in the future.  Each received one recommendation – any and all contaminants should be removed, and processes such as regulatory, mechanical and institutional systems should be adopted to insure that contaminants do not compromise the Nation’s lands in the future.

Our first set of interviews produced the above data but did not represent a sufficient proportion of the Community. The Brownfields Project wants and needs the Shinnecock Nation Community’s input on these questions to fulfill the EPA requirements and to help structure the future Brownfields projects, including the cleanup of the dump.  Shinnecock community members; Please fill out the attached questionnaire as best you can.