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Bob Banfelder

Bob is an award-winning crime-thriller novelist and outdoors writer. "The Fishing Smart Anywhere Handbook for Salt Water & Fresh Water" is endorsed by Lefty Kreh and Angelo Peluso~online at Amazon.

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June 02, 2016

Squeaky Wheel Gets a Few Drops of Oil

by Bob Banfelder

Continuing with yesterday's Nor'east report referencing the pollution of the upper sections of the Peconic River, Donna and I had reached out to former key-CIA field commander operation's officer Gary Berntsen. Gary had served in Afghanistan, hunting down Osama bin Laden—literally. Let's examine one of my articles along with a letter that appeared in Red Room, an online magazine serving a community of writers:

RED TAPE

February 24, 2010

After meeting with Gary Berntsen on Sunday, February 21, 2010, the ex CIA operation's officer is seeking the Suffolk County Congressional seat for District 1 in Riverhead, New York. The following is the letter that Donna and I sent to Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus regarding the Navy's procrastination in cleaning up the toxic plume referencing the Peconic River. Gary Berntsen knows Ray Mabus personally and said that he would speak to the secretary on a one-to-one. Let's see where this will lead.

Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus
1000 Navy Pentagon
Washington, DC 20350-1000

RE: Peconic River Toxic Plume, Riverhead, New York

Dear Secretary Mabus:

As Donna and I live on the Peconic River in Riverhead, NY, we are very concerned about the toxic plume that is threatening the Peconic Estuary. We are aware that there exists a commission composed of Navy personnel and community members that has been established to address this matter. However, the Navy is procrastinating in dealing with the issue; that is, a major clean-up. Meetings, studies, more meetings, and further studies all serve to delay what must be addressed immediately. The Navy has been aware of this debacle for at least the past decade.

The Navy's remedial project manager, Lora Fly, who oversees the so-called federal clean-up, denied the Navy Restoration Advisory Board's temporary measure while the Navy continues to drag its feet. Be reminded that tests of wells in the Calverton/Manorville area conducted by the Navy and the county health department have found high concentrations of Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) to be as high as 200 (two hundred) times higher than the state's allowable drinking water standards. Additionally, two discharge points of VOCs have been found along the banks of the Peconic River.

As opposed to other counties throughout the country, a disproportionate number of Suffolk County folks have developed cancer. The seepage of aircraft-cleaning chemicals used at the defunct Grumman Aircraft facility [Calverton/Manorville, NY area], is of little doubt a direct cause. The Peconic River Sportsman's Club, located in Manorville has had a well closed because of inordinate levels of contamination. Fishermen at the club are told not to eat the fish that they catch. Advisory board members had requested that the Navy take a temporary measure and install a "pump-and treat-system" in the midst of the extensive toxic plume, which is polluting the Peconic River. The Navy has refused. Be reminded that initially the Navy had stated, unequivocally, that the plume was going to dissipate through "natural attenuation." It has not—nor will this egregious issue disperse until the matter is satisfactorily resolved.

I am a novelist and outdoors writer. My credentials may be viewed at www.robertbanfelder.com. In an effort to make people aware of this serious problem, I have written six blogs thus far on the toxic plume matter; they appear on the Red Room Web site, www.redroom/blog.robert-banfelder. I invite you to read them.

Last Sunday, we attended the campaign kick-off for ‘Gary Berntsen for Congress.' I posed the problem to Gary directly, informing him that nothing is being done (apart from P.R. rhetoric) to correct the matter. We are talking Volatile Organic Compounds now leaching into the Peconic River. Mr. Berntsen said that he knows you personally and would address the issue. Donna and I are hoping that the two of you will make positive headway. Suffolk County residents have a grave situation here on Long Island, and the United States Navy needs to act immediately.

As an aside, we are sure you are well aware that as a CIA key-field commander in Afghanistan, Gary's team was thwarted from delivering Osama bin Laden's head in a box back to the United States because of bureaucratic red tape; namely, CENTCOM, Langley (seventh floor), and Washington, DC. Please do not wrap or bury this Suffolk County debacle in red tape. You are dealing with the health and well-being of its residents.

We would appreciate, after your speaking with Gary, a timely response re this matter.

Respectfully submitted,
Robert Banfelder
Donna Derasmo

********


Now, I'm not at all saying that our letter alone to the Secretary of the Navy, Ray Mabus, eventually moved the mighty along a corrective path (albeit at glacial speed at best), but I'm sure it didn't impede matters either. Stay tuned for more of this double-whammy debacle as both ends of the Peconic River, once a treasure to behold, is slowly, toxically, being poisoned.

Also, if you want to learn the wherefores as to Long Island's alarmingly high cancer rate—in terms of air, land, and water pollution—read my award-winning novel titled, The Author. Although labeled as fiction, you'll discover eye-opening truths. Please keep in mind that my award-winning novels are based on realities as I weave fact through fiction. You may find it noteworthy that on May 24th, 2016, President Barack Obama sent me the following letter.



*******


The "...hard work of people like you" and "...your words of support" that President Obama is alluding to in his letter to me references my award-winning novel titled The Author. Donna and I will again be reaching out to Governor Cuomo and the New York Department of Environmental Conservation, inviting them to appear on our Cablevision TV show, Special Interests with Bob & Donna.



E-book and paperback editions available on Amazon




On May 31st, 2016, CBS2's reporter Jennifer McLogan interviews Bob Banfelder referencing the clean-up operation of bunker (menhaden) in the Peconic River. Google search Jennifer McLogan CBS News and click on "Long Island Fishermen Trying to Prevent Repeat of Last Year's Massive Fish Die-Off."

I had addressed the fact that the Riverhead Sewage Treatment Plant is a major culprit in the river's poor water quality. Additionally, we discussed the toxic plume in the upper reaches of the Peconic River (Manorville/Calverton area). Ms. McLogan acknowledged the pollution at both ends of the Peconic River; however, she didn't report it in the video, saying that she was sure that ". . . Riverhead Town Supervisor Sean Walter would be very defensive about those statements." A fine example of subjective reporting.

For next month, we'll take a hard look at how Riverhead Town is addressing the bunker die-off issue in the Peconic River, while at the same time turning a blind eye to the chief contributing nitrogen-causing culprit; that is, the Riverhead Sewage Treatment Plant.

Stay tuned.

Robert Banfelder

Outdoor Writers Association of America
New York State Outdoor Writers Association
Long Island Outdoor Communicators Network

Co-host Cablevision TV show, Special Interests with Bob & Donna, every Saturday, 4 p.m., Channel 20 for East End of Long Island viewers.

Bob Banfelder's Nonfiction:

The Fishing Smart Anywhere Handbook for Salt Water & Fresh Water



The North American Small & Big Game Hunting Smart Handbook ~ Bonus Feature: Hunting Africa's & Australia's Most Dangerous Game



Bob Banfelder's Fiction:

Award-Winning Crime-Thriller Novelist (nine novels to date). Bob weaves his love of the great outdoors through several of his novels.

Note: All synopses and summaries may be viewed on Bob's Web site http://www.robertbanfelder.com. See link for Synopses: Published Fiction & Nonfiction. A listing of Bob's entire works may be viewed under the Publications link on his Web site.




June 01, 2016

Dealing with Bureaucracies' Continued Delays

by Bob Banfelder

Continuing with last month's May 2nd report, I said that we'd continue with addressing the pollution of the upper reaches of the Peconic River in order to show how the United States Navy was handling the pledged cleanup operation of toxic [Volatile Organic Compounds ~ VOCs] chemicals. You'll recall the continued fight against the United States Navy's initial refusal to clean up the toxic plume it created at the former Northrop Grumman plant dating back to the 1950s. In 2008, the plume was discovered in the upper regions of the Peconic River, having leached into the area's groundwater, polluting 27 wells that provided drinking water. Water samples that were taken were found to be as high as two hundred (200) times New York State's drinking water standards! I had the following article published in Red Room (an online magazine for writers):

UNITED STATES NAVY KEEPS POISONING THE WELL

February 5, 2010

There are so many things wrong within this country, and the United States Navy is responsible for one of them: Big Time Pollution. It is criminal, and the Navy is behaving criminally, for it is procrastinating by dragging its feet for yet another year. We are now headed toward the end of 2010 and probably well into 2011 before the Navy completes and releases a study, euphemistically called a Corrective Measures Study. However, nothing is being corrected. The facts are already in and have been brought to light. The Peconic River is being poisoned by the toxic plume. That is a given. There is no justice in this matter. New York State Senator Schumer's warning to the Navy has not fallen upon deaf ears. His words have descended upon ears that refuse to hear. His words have surely seeped into those demented minds, souls, and bodies that simply will not act. It is an act of arrogance and shows a sheer disregard for both the health and environmental issues concerning the residents of Suffolk County.

Until recently, I was a member of the Peconic River Sportsman's Club, on whose property the toxic plume has been greatly evident. I am in touch with community members who serve on the Navy's Restoration Advisory Board. Most recently, I received a rather brusque e-mail from the secretary of the Peconic River Sportsman's Club. I believe it is the firm position and stance that I take on this weighty issue that prompted the secretary's remarks, for the man told me, "We are not fighting with the Navy but working together to obtain a solution to fix this problem." I responded with an e-mail telling the secretary that he couldn't be more wrong.

You can no longer work with a faction (in this case the United States Navy) that has been stonewalling and sidestepping the issue for at least a decade, no more than you should or would negotiate with terrorists who are trying to undermine this nation. Some analogy, you're thinking. Yes? But think a bit harder: Suffolk County is at serious risk. Period.

Being that the secretary of the Peconic River Sportsman's Club and I are on different pages, I felt it necessary to voluntarily resign from the club (as a member in good standing) rather than prove what I feel would be an embarrassment to the board, as well as the members of this fine organization—given my firm convictions and unshakable position.

There is no cleanup of the former Grumman site on the horizon. The so-called Corrective Measures Study will inevitably take years. Delays are the way in which the United States Navy chooses to continue to deal with this situation. This irresponsible force needs to be taken to task today, not tomorrow.

*******

Returning to the moment and back to the lower reaches of the Peconic River referencing the nitrogen causing affect via the Riverhead Sewage Treatment Plant, you'll note the growing confluence at our dock, which is in proximity to the treatment facility. Not surprisingly, the treatment plant is still not fully operational. You'll recall that the upgrade was scheduled to be completed by the end of March 2016, then April, and then by the end of May. The project is still unfinished, with a new projection date of sometime in August, according to Tim Gannon of the Riverhead News-Review. Meanwhile, the ineffectual treatment plant is still functioning at only half capacity, continuing to dump far-higher levels of so-called treated sewage than normally permitted by the Department of Environmental Conservation.



Our dock along Riverside Drive in Riverhead: May 3rd, 2016; afternoon air temperature 66º Fahrenheit. The water quality has been a soupy, swirly mass of brownish-greenish effluence for several weeks; i.e., mid-April into the first week of May 2016. Zero-depth clarity.

Above and Below Comparisons




By May 22nd (2 weeks later); afternoon air temperature 63º Fahrenheit. You'll note that the water quality is a pronounced pea-soupy, swirly green mass. Zero-depth clarity.

Not surprisingly, after having documented my case to Governor Cuomo referencing several newspaper articles supporting the fact that the Riverhead Sewage Treatment Plant had indeed discharged raw sewage into the Peconic River, we have not heard back from the governor or Joseph DiMura, Director of Bureau of Water Compliance for the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation.

For tomorrow, concerning the toxic Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) pollution referencing the upper reaches of the Peconic River, you'll learn why Donna and I reached out to former key-CIA field commander operation's officer Gary Berntsen, who had served in Afghanistan—hunting down Osama bin Laden. Back in 2010, we had attended Gary's campaign kick-off for ‘Gary Berntsen for Congress.'


Robert Banfelder

Outdoor Writers Association of America
New York State Outdoor Writers Association
Long Island Outdoor Communicators Network

Co-host Cablevision TV show, Special Interests with Bob & Donna, every Saturday, 4 p.m., Channel 20 for East End of Long Island viewers.

Bob Banfelder's Nonfiction:

The Fishing Smart Anywhere Handbook for Salt Water & Fresh Water



The North American Small & Big Game Hunting Smart Handbook ~ Bonus Feature: Hunting Africa's & Australia's Most Dangerous Game



Bob Banfelder's Fiction:

Award-Winning Crime-Thriller Novelist (nine novels to date). Bob weaves his love of the great outdoors through several of his novels.

Note: All synopses and summaries may be viewed on Bob's Web site http://www.robertbanfelder.com. See link for Synopses: Published Fiction & Nonfiction. A listing of Bob's entire works may be viewed under the Publications link on his Web site.




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