Thursday, May 26, 2005

Base Closing News

$10 million Earmarked for Base

The legislature, typically, is throwing money at the problem:

Saying that Connecticut needs to put money on the table, the state legislature voted swiftly and unanimously Wednesday to allocate $10 million for dredging the Thames River and making improvements at the Groton submarine base... (Keating)

How much of an impact will this really have on the BRAC committee? It seems that almost every affected state is allocating money to try and save bases, some significantly more than Connecticut:

Some states were setting aside money even before the Pentagon announced its decisions on May 13. Those include $261 million in Massachusetts, $250 million in Texas, $23.5 million in North Carolina and $15 million in Florida, said Sen. Cathy Cook, a Mystic Republican whose district includes the base. (Keating)

The article states that the Thames would be dredged to allow large Trident subs to turn around. Tridents, however, are not currently stationed at Groton, probably because of the shallow depth of the river.

Why didn't we do this years ago? Allowing Tridents to be stationed at the base would increase the military value of the site, obviously--so why wasn't it done after the 1993, when the base was saved by a whisker? Why didn't the state do all it could to help preserve the base then instead of reacting now? Wishful thinking?

Hate to say it, but I'm not liking our chances.

What a Mess

The AP is reporting that the base site is incredibly polluted, so much so that it may not be possible to build homes and commercial businesses there:

For decades, the land around the U.S. Navy's 575-acre submarine base was a dumping ground for whatever it needed to dispose: sulfuric acid, torpedo fuel, waste oil and incinerator ash.
...
Even some areas that have been cleaned could pose health risks to construction workers and future residents if the base were to disappear, the documents show.

And while the Navy pledges $23.9 million toward cleaning the base it opened in 1868, they said Wednesday that cleanup will only be to industrial standards. State officials fear the money won't be nearly enough to make the land fit for waterfront homes, condominiums or recreational facilities. (AP)

Nice of them. The base is a Superfund site, which gives you an idea of just how bad it is. It could be that the Navy is lowballing the cost to further justify closing the base, but what this means is that once the cleanup is done, the town of Groton is going to be left with land that can't be used for anything but an industrial site, and it's doubtful that industry is going to rush into the vacuum.

Timeline of Base Closure

The Day has a timeline of the closure process, which includes a map of polluted sites. According to the Navy, the base would finally be closed in 2011, when most personnel would leave.

The Nautilus, which is to remain anchored at Groton, would be the only sub left in Connecticut at that point.

This gives the state plenty of time to prepare and to try and attract new businesses and opportunities to southeastern Connecticut.

Sources:
Keating, Christopher. "Legislature Approves Base-Saving Spending." Hartford Courant 26 May, 2005.

"AP Enterprise: Connecticut sub base a 'minefield' of pollution." Associated Press 26 May, 2005.

Hamilton, Robert. "Navy Details Phaseout Of Groton Base." The Day 26 May, 2005.

3 comments:

stomv said...

I can't imagine the Thames has anything to do with them closing Groton -- after all, if the Pentagon had wanted the added benefit of the dredging, and $10M is all it took, they'd have just done it themselves years ago.

And yes, the base is toxic -- nearly all are. As far as waterfront condos go... they'll be worth enough that the developer can spring for cleanup. The rest? Industrial. There's some time for cleanup.

MikeCT said...

Speaking of environmental issues, has anyone asked about the environmental consequences of dredging the river?

Great Santini said...

I think the environmental issues may be so servere that the USN may just decide to mothball the base. They do this with ships, they can do it with a base. They would just reduce the number of subs and associated commands to low levels and have the base ready to return to full strength if needed. Alternatively, the SUBBASE could make a ploy to be the homeport for the new smaller attack subs.