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Army says clean-up is ahead of schedule
New 11-member authority holds its first board meeting at Fort Monroe
August 23, 2010 | By David Macaulay, firstname.lastname@example.org | 247-7838
HAMPTON — The clean-up of Fort Monroe is ahead of schedule, the first board meeting of the Fort Monroe Authority heard Monday.
Robin Mills, the Army's Director of Public Works at Fort Monroe, said an environmental impact study has been carried out over the last 18 months.
"The Army is responsible for the environmental clean-up at Fort Monroe," she said. "The great news about the clean-up schedule at Fort Monroe is that we are ahead of schedule. Usually we don't get to a clean-up until really after the closure," said Mills who has worked in the BRAC (Base Realignment and Closure Commission) process for the last 15 years.
She said the clean-up process normally begins after the Army has departed from a base, but Fort Monroe was proving to be an exception to the rule. In September 2011, the Army will vacate the historic post and turn the property over to the commonwealth of Virginia.
"In the last five years we have put $10 million into the environmental clean-up at Fort Monroe," Mills said.
Mills said fieldwork for a contraband cemetery study had taken place but no graves of contrabands — slaves freed after presenting themselves to Fort Monroe during the Civil War — had been found.
The Fort Monroe Authority board also heard a detailed update on the clean-up from Julie Carver, a vice president of Matrix Design Group Inc., a company that has been providing environmental services at Fort Monroe since 2006 and from Rick Weeks of the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality.
Weeks said 50 sites were initially identified for a possible clean-up. These include Dog Beach, the site of a former landfill, former medical facilities, the marina, the moat, small arms ranges and petroleum storage tanks.
He said 25 of the sites needed further investigation after a preliminary study. Work has continued on 12 of these.
Carver said the contamination at Fort Monroe related primarily to ordnance due to its mission to provide coastal defense and artillery training. But "rampant speculation" about the amount of ordnance at Monroe proved to be wide of the mark.
"Out of 2,300 items dug only two proved to be items of concern," she said. The teams found a 10-inch cannon ball and a 3-inch Parrott rifle round.
A cannon that was found has been restored and is in the Casemate Museum, Carver said.