Brunswick Naval Air Station Asbestos Exposure

It is an unfortunate reality that our nation’s veterans are among the top at-risk groups for asbestos exposure. Numerous military bases have been subject to EPA Superfund investigations and cleanups, usually due to inordinate levels of hazardous asbestos. The Brunswick Naval Air Station in Maine was home base for pilots during World War II, the Vietnam War, Operation Desert Storm, the Korean War Effort, and Operation Iraqi Freedom, and operations did not cease until 2010. More than two decades prior to its shut down, however, EPA placed the Brunswick Station on the National Priorities List, putting 13 areas under investigation.

Two of these areas, referred to as Sites 5 and 6, were used for many years for asbestos disposal. Site 5 is located off Merriconeag Road and contained much eroding asbestos material. Site 6 is bordered by Sandy Road and a small stream, and was used to dispose of construction debris as well as aircraft parts. Asbestos exposure attorneys remind residents of Brunswick that asbestos does not break down into other compounds in the environment.

Asbestos fibers remain unchanged for long periods of time, and are able to travel long distance suspended in the air. If inhaled, asbestos is proven to cause life-threatening illnesses, such as asbestosis, lung cancer, and mesothelioma.

According to EPA documents, Site 5 was used as a disposal area for asbestos-covered pipes, though nothing is known about the manner or care with which these pipes were disposed. Site 6 was reportedly used for general dumping of construction debris until the late 1970s. A site inspection in 1980 reported asbestos-covered pipes protruding from the surface. Aircraft parts were also disposed of at Site 6. At the time of EPA intervention, pipes, concrete, asphalt, and other debris were visible at the soil surface.

The Administrative Record for Sites 5 and 6 is available for public review at the Naval Site Public Works office and at the Curtis Memorial Library.

The selected remedy for Sites 5 and 6 was developed in response to citizen concerns that all debris and asbestos-containing material be removed from the site so that no restrictions would be placed on future site use. The remedy involved excavating nonhazardous construction rubble and debris from Site 6, excavating and containerizing asbestos-contaminated material from both Sites, and placing this material as subgrade fill beneath the approved landfill cap at Sites 1 and 3.

Neither site was fenced, though Site 5 was posted with signs as an asbestos disposal area. Potential use of the sites was by older children trespassing on site to play. The potential for increased future risks remains if any asbestos is uncovered by activities at either site.

Until its closure in 2010, approximately 3,000 people lived on the base within a mile of the site areas. An elementary school, a college, and a hospital are located within 1 mile of the western base boundary. Area surface water is used for recreation, irrigation, and commercial fishing.

This base was addressed in three phases, initial removal actions; long-term remedial actions focusing on cleanup of specific areas of contamination; and long-term monitoring, and operation and maintenance. The remedial action objectives for Sites 5 and 6 were established to mitigate existing and future potential threats to public health and the environment, comply with state requirements, and address community concerns, and include:

. preventing future potential risks from exposure to airborne asbestos;
. complying with Maine solid waste landfill closure requirements; and . complying with the community’s desire for less restrictive land use on base property.

Cleanup activities were completed at these sites in mid-1995. The first and second Five Year Review of all sites, which was performed in 2000 and 2005, found that all remedies implemented were protective of human health and the environment and recommended several modifications to increase remedy effectiveness.

Mesothelioma lawyers at Pintas & Mullins Law Firm warn Brunswick residents that the amount of time between initial exposure to asbestos and development of related illnesses is anywhere between 15 and 40 years. Although the cleanup and remedial actions were completed at Brunswick Naval Station in 1995, the extended latency period of asbestos exposure means there is still a threat to public health. If you suspect asbestos exposure and developed a consequent disease, contact our firm today for a free legal consultation.

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