The U.S. Navy has agreed to make more than $39 million in repairs at Naval Station Newport that will ensure the facility is in compliance with laws regulating the discharge of stormwater into Coddington Cove, an embayment of Narragansett Bay, according to a news release published today by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

“The projects under this agreement with the US Navy will help reduce discharges of soil to Coddington Cove,” said EPA Acting Assistant Administrator for Enforcement and Compliance Assurance Larry Starfield in a statement. “Rhode Island communities will benefit through improved water quality in Narragansett Bay.”

Under the terms of a recent agreement with the EPA, the EPA says that the Navy will complete stormwater discharge infrastructure improvements by 2030 at the former Derecktor Shipyard, settling EPA allegations that the facility was in violation of the Clean Water Act. The repairs include seven specific projects along the bulkhead, a retaining wall along the waterfront.

The Naval Station operates under a municipal stormwater permit issued by the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management. The facility includes the former Derecktor shipyard, a Superfund site.

The case stems from an inspection of the facility in August 2016 to evaluate the condition of the stormwater conveyance system that was contributing to erosion and discharge of soils to Coddington Cove, according to the EPA.

The inspection focused on the presence of sinkholes and the condition of stormwater infrastructure covered under the site’s stormwater permit. EPA inspectors confirmed that the deteriorated condition of stormwater outfall pipes had caused or contributed to at least four large sinkholes near the permitted stormwater outfalls through a bulkhead running along the shoreline.

The facility’s stormwater system and waterfront bulkhead at Derecktor Shipyard are deteriorated and not operating as intended. Some 25 sinkholes have been identified along the bulkhead. The Navy has also identified numerous holes in the bulkhead wall. The condition of the bulkhead has caused soil to be discharged without a permit into Coddington Cove, in violation of the Clean Water Act.

Under EPA’s Superfund program, Navy is also responsible for maintaining a soil and asphalt cover to prevent exposure to contaminated soils at Derecktor Shipyard, including along the bulkhead wall, under a clean-up plan issued by the Navy in 2014. Navy is collecting soil and sediment samples in the area to assess the potential risks to human health and the environment from soil exposed by the sinkholes or from soil erosion into Coddington Cove.

More information:

– How EPA works with Federal agencies to ensure environmental compliance: https://www.epa.gov/enforcement/enforcement-federal-facilities

– EPA information on cleanup work at Naval Station Newport Superfund Site: https://www.epa.gov/superfund/netc

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Ryan M. Belmore

Ryan M. Belmore is the Owner & Publisher of What's Up Newp. Ryan is a member of Local Independent Online News (LION) Publishers. Send questions, tips, and story ideas to Ryan@whatsupnewp.com.