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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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August 02, 2016

In Summery & Summary

by Bob Banfelder

Today's piece concludes the coverage of the toxic plume discovered in the upper reaches of the Peconic River (Calverton/Manorville area), dating back to 2009. Additionally, I'll finish up addressing the more recent coliform (fecal) and other bacterial contamination found in the lower reaches of the Peconic River in Riverhead. The major contributing culprit is the antiquated Riverhead Sewage Treatment Plant, awaiting an upgrade. Any day, now; any day, officials keep telling us. The result of the plant having dumped raw sewage and partially treated sewage into the Peconic River over a period of years has resulted in high nitrogen levels, low dissolved oxygen levels, turtle and fish die-offs, the closing of recreational shellfish harvesting areas, and the cancellations of public activities by the Suffolk County Department of Health Services. Let's first take a look back in time to the concluding article that I wrote for Red Room, concerning the upper reaches of the Peconic River.

THE FOX IN CHARGE OF THE HENHOUSE?


June 10, 2014

Well, it has been 5 years, 2 months, and 9 days since I began reporting on the toxic plume discovered in the Peconic River, located at the headwaters in Calverton. It has been 3 years, 5 months, and 9 days since I last reported that the United States Navy had finally begun testing as to how they might treat Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs). So where are we today, June 10th, 2014?

Installed only in October 2013, we now have a $4.6 million treatment facility pumping toxic groundwater in an attempt to remove the contamination bestowed upon us by the Naval Weapons Industrial Reserve Plant at the former Grumman Corporation Calverton site where the company built, tested and cleaned its aircraft. The contaminating culprits were jet fuel and chlorinated solvents, especially the latter. However, the plume is still traveling from the site and onto private land as well as county parkland, stated the Riverhead News–Review in an April 17th, 2014 front page article. The remediation system is going to "be in operation for at least another two to four years—assuming all goes as planned," scribes staff writer Tim Gannon in his piece. Actually, it's going to be another two to four years, minimum.

You'll recall the fact that the toxic chemicals found in the Peconic River were as high as two hundred (200) times New York State's allowable drinking water standards. You'll also recall the United States Navy initially refusing to do anything about this deplorable situation, claiming that these Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) would simply go away through "natural attenuation," said Navy spokeswoman, Lieutenant j.g. Laura Stegherr, who had later reinforced the Navy's position by stating, "The Calverton site does not present a health or safety risk." The lieutenant j.g. added, "Current sampling shows the concentration of volatile organic compounds detected in the Peconic River is lower than appreciable values and ecological values. Additionally," she continued, "concentration levels in groundwater have remained steady or decreased over time . . . ." All of these statements are blatant lies.

Prevarication and procrastination by the United States Navy had and have many of us still wondering if this final treatment facility approach is a ‘too little too late' situation. We, of course, certainly hope not. Nineteen pounds of the Volatile Organic Compounds have been removed from the groundwater thus far. Yet, because the plume shifts periodically, "scientists feel that the groundwater extraction wells have a capture zone that should still be large enough to capture the plume," said consultant Dave Brayack of Tetra Tech EC, Inc., a company that provides a full range of consulting, engineering, remediation, renewable energy, and construction services worldwide. Brayack, quoting scientists' words like feel and should give me pause and make me wonder. However, in all fairness, state and Suffolk County officials seem satisfied that the cleanup of the toxic plume is going well. We'll just have to wait and see what happens over the next several years. "There's always a possibility it [the plume] could do something we've never seen in the past," said Brayack.

What makes me leery is the fact that it's the Naval Facilities Engineering Command that is heading up this toxic cleanup, the very department that initially denied that the Calverton site does not present a health or safety risk. Isn't that a lot like the fox overseeing the henhouse?

Again, stay tuned for SNAFUs that are certain to rear their ugly heads over the course of several years. I'll only disappear from reporting this horrendous debacle through "natural attenuation."

*******


Returning to the moment and addressing the lower region of the Peconic River, specifically the Riverhead Sewage Treatment Plant [officially referred to as the Riverhead Wastewater Treatment Plant], we are still waiting in earnest for the upgrade to be fully functional . . . and waiting . . . and waiting. The work began in April of 2014. It's been one delay after another. The upgraded facility was to have been completed back in April of this year. Residents are now told that the new completion date will be at the end of August. Should we the people hold our breaths, noses, and keep our patience in check?

What is positively unsettling to Donna and me is that within the 2014, 2015, and 2016 recreational seasons here in Riverhead, we have watched folks kayaking, canoeing, sculling, paddle boarding, jet skiing, and fishing on the Peconic River; also, swimming and even clamming in these waters. Many people are not aware of the Riverhead Sewage Treatment Plant's failures to function properly, especially visitors on vacation who immerse themselves in these activities. Until such periods of time that the Riverhead Sewage Treatment Plant is operating satisfactorily and the river's water quality meets acceptable standards, the Suffolk County Department of Health Services had advised (via an occasional mention in a local publication) people to stay out of the Peconic River east of Grangebel Park (the tidal section of the river). I'll excerpt from one publication, our RiverheadLocal:

"Peconic River contaminated in downtown Riverhead by sewage discharge; county officials issue advisory: avoid contact with river water downtown. If contact does occur, rinse off with clean water immediately. Seek medical attention if after exposure you experience nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, allergic reactions, breathing difficulties or skin, eye or throat irritation." It's interesting to note that the publication date was December 15th, 2015, not exactly the height of the recreational summer season.

It is also interesting to note that a scheduled ‘Riverhead Rocks' August 14th 2016 triathlon event is being presented by the Peconic Bay Medical Center. In past years, as part of the triathlon, we've seen these athletes swim right behind the Long Island Aquarium & Exhibition Center in downtown Riverhead, heading east just past our home on the Peconic River—along the very watery path that the Suffolk County Department of Health Services had advised people to stay clear of until such time as the Riverhead Sewage Treatment Plant is functioning properly. As the plant is operating satisfactorily on an on-again-off again basis, we're warned by watchdog groups to take precautionary measures before recreating within boundary zones of the Peconic River. One group recommended that folks "check current water quality testing before entering any waterbody," suggesting that folks "sign up and receive alerts about the discharge of untreated sewage into local waterways via NY-Alert." Why wasn't there or aren't there signs presently along the Peconic River warning people about this health issue?

Oh, I get it! It's all about dollars and cents—not sense. It's about revenue. For a number of years, I've done all I could to inform folks about these serious concerns. Wait a minute! That's not entirely true. I have a buddy, Markus Gneist, who builds state-of-the-art surf boards [www.facebook. com/journeysurf/]. Surely, I could have Markus design and create a specialty board that I could lie flat (hidden) upon, exhibiting a menacing-looking pair of fabricated shark fins, thereby clearing the Peconic River of folks by yelling, "SHARK!" With good intentions foremost in mind, I don't think that's at all tantamount to yelling "FIRE!" inside a crowded theater. Ah, but then I'd first have to come in contact with the river water myself as it presently flushes to and fro from the antiquated Riverhead Sewage Treatment Plant. Oh, well.

Let's hope that by the end of this month the Riverhead Sewage Treatment Plant upgrade will be completed, operating, and fully functional. Also, businesses that operate near or on the water, such as the Indian Island Golf Course in Riverhead, must be closely monitored. For example, in 2015 the Riverhead Sewage Treatment Plant started pumping wastewater into the golf course's irrigation system in order to reduce the use of fertilizers needed to keep the course green. Prior to that year, seasonally, tens of millions of gallons of partially treated wastewater, resulting in nitrogen overloading, was being dumped directly into the Peconic River. Currently, the irrigation approach is being done at night. If you fish the area at night, which Donna and I occasionally do, you'll occasionally catch a whiff of exactly what's going on—disgusting. Remember, the Riverhead Sewage Treatment Plant is still not up to speed. When the treatment plant upgrade is finally, fully functional, measures like these (not to mention addressing outdated home cesspool/septic systems) will hopefully alleviate the problem at one end of the Peconic River. I just hope that it's not too late for a successful cleanup at the other end; that is, the toxic Volatile Organic Chemicals (VOCs) that have leached into the upper sections of the Peconic River and adjoining properties within the Calverton/Manorville areas in Suffolk County.

Notes: Still, to this date, August 2nd, 2016, the water clarity of the Peconic River east of Grangebel Park in Riverhead out to Reeves Bay and Flanders Bay remains dismal and disgusting. Donna and I have lived on the Peconic River for twenty-six years; we know what this body of water should look like . . . the treasure it once was.

It is also important to note that neither Governor Cuomo nor Joseph DiMura (Director of Bureau of Water Compliance for the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation) responded to the well-documented case I presented, which clearly showed that the Riverhead Sewage Treatment Plant did, indeed, dump raw sewage into the Peconic River. Not surprisingly, neither party accepted Donna's and my invitation to appear on our Cablevision show, Special Interests.

Final Note: As a reward referencing my work through the years in fighting for clean waters, KastKing, a provider of quality fishing products at affordable prices, sent me this personalized shirt. Too, my name is on the front of the shirt. I will wear it proudly. And, no—I'm not turning my back on you. :o) :o)



For next month, I'll be writing a two-part series on an affordable, quality portable boat (four models from which to choose).


Bob Banfelder
www.robertbanfelder.com

Award-Winning Crime-Thriller Novelist & Outdoors Writer
Member: Outdoors Writers Association of America
New York State Outdoor Writers Association
Long Island Outdoor Communicators Network
Cablevision TV Host Special Interests with Robert Banfelder & Donna Derasmo
Bi-monthly contributor to Nor'east Saltwater






August 01, 2016

It's Not Over 'Til It's Over

by Bob Banfelder

For today and tomorrow, I'm going to wind down reporting on the toxic pollution of Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) discovered in the upper reaches of the Peconic River and area drinking wells. I've been recounting this matter for the past seven years—since January of this year for Nor'east Saltwater. I coupled this coverage to the more recent coliform (fecal) and other bacterial contamination found in the lower reaches of the Peconic River, low dissolved oxygen levels, high nitrogen levels—resulting in the closing of toxic shellfish grounds, turtle and fish die-offs, and the on-and-off again cancellations of public activities by the Suffolk County Department of Health Services. It's been a long haul, folks. Let's take a look back in time to another article that I wrote for Red Room, a once prestigious online literary magazine comprised of a community of writers.

CLEANUP OR BEING TAKEN TO THE CLEANERS?

August 7, 2010

Well, some Suffolk County officials as well as community members appear, at this point, satisfied that the United States Navy has finally begun testing as to how they might treat the Volatile Organic Compound (VOC) contamination calamity at Calverton. On July 21st, 2010, I received a copy of an e-mail from a very savvy, no-nonsense community member of the Restoration Advisory Board, Jean Mannhaupt, concerning the Navy's endeavor to eventually clean up the toxic groundwater plume at Calverton.

In sum and substance, the e-mail stated that several members of the Restoration Advisory Board took a tour of the Calverton site with naval officials and their contractors who are undertaking the work. The team is conducting pump testing and has initiated their pilot study to determine if bioremediation is a viable cleanup technology. Bill Gunther, Community Co-Chair for the Calverton Restoration Advisory Board said, "We were very impressed with the extensive testing underway, which indicated to us that the Navy is finally serious about an active cleanup of the groundwater contamination. The NYSDEC representative was also there, and we learned that the Suffolk County Health Department has been taking water samples during the testing program. During the pump testing, the Navy's contractors are routing the contaminated water through carbon filters before release, so in effect, some cleanup is being done already. We are finally seeing the action we have all been seeking for some time."

On July 29th, 2010, the Riverhead News-Review reported that the Navy had begun testing by utilizing two methods for treating the contaminated groundwater. In February 2011, "based on those test results, the Navy will present a comprehensive Corrective Measures Study that will include long-term cleanup options," recounts staff writer Vera Chinese.

Please be reminded of my fourth blog dating back to August 17th, 2009, in which I had commented on and questioned the time frame of the Navy's "Corrective Measures Study," fearing procrastination on their behalf. Time has been steadily slipping away. Much time has been lost because the United States Navy had been in denial from the onset, claiming that Calverton's toxic plume was simply going to go away through "natural attenuation."

Allow me to reiterate from my August 2009 blog: "And so it shall continue (meetings and studies, compromises and concessions), ad infinitum, is my pessimistic outlook. I truly hope I'm wrong, but I rarely am mistaken, for I've been dealing with federal, state, and local governments for more years than the Navy has been polluting the Peconic River. Action speaks louder than words."

Was I wrong? Most assuredly not.

Excerpted from Ms. Chinese's text, I took the liberty of boldfacing the staff writer's key words and phrases so as to emphasize qualifiers that might tend to have some of us wonder and worry. Too, I include my bracketed documented reminders:

After a 30-day public comment period, the study will be amended, if necessary. Once it is approved by the state, an actual cleanup could begin.

The first treatment method, called a pump test, mimics the groundwater pump-and-treat system on a smaller scale. Testing of that method began July 12.

The other cleanup option, called a biodegradation system, involves injecting the groundwater with corn-based organic materials that help degrade the polluting chemicals. A test of that approach began July 19.

Lora Fly, the Navy's remedial project manager, said pump-test data had already been collected, although the Navy will continue to collect information from the second test until December. She said that it "is not going to be an instantaneous result."
Both methods could ultimately be used in the cleanup efforts at the site.

The treatment systems will target high concentrations of Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) that are flowing from the former Navy property toward the Peconic River. [Actually, trace concentrations of volatile organic compounds have already found their way into the Peconic River.]

VOC concentrations as high as 1,090 micrograms per liter have been found in the area. State drinking water standards are five (5) micrograms per liter.

The chemicals, used for decades to clear grease from jet engines when Grumman operated an assembly plant and flight test facility at the site, could have harmful effects on humans and wildlife. They have been found in the river. [Also, the toxic chemicals have been found in the banks of the river.] Grumman ceased operations in 1994 after about 40 years there.

The Navy previously contended that the chemicals were disappearing naturally as they flowed south toward the river, a theory that community members and elected officials rejected.

*******


Is the United States Navy finally doing the right thing? It seems so. Will state government drag its feet following the Corrective Measures Study, further thwarting or delaying "an actual cleanup?" I've been reporting and commenting on this matter since April 1st, 2009. We will be well into 2011 before we even begin to learn the corrective measures our governments (federal, state, and local) will take.



Photo credit: Donna Derasmo. July 31st, 2016. Building in which polluted groundwater flowing from the former U.S. Navy Grumman site in Calverton is extracted and treated by air strippers before being discharged into the ground.

*******


Tomorrow, Nor'east Saltwater readers, I will put to bed this series of disturbing events and move on to more positive articles beginning in August. Stay tuned.


Robert Banfelder
www.robertbanfelder.com

Award-Winning Crime-Thriller Novelist & Outdoors Writer
Member: Outdoors Writers Association of America
New York State Outdoor Writers Association
Long Island Outdoor Communicators Network
Cablevision TV Host Special Interests with Robert Banfelder & Donna Derasmo
Bi-monthly contributor to Nor'east Saltwater



July 01, 2016

Putting in My 2 Cents Worth, Too

by Bob Banfelder

The Department of Environmental Conservation in conjunction with Riverhead Town had each agreed to put up two cents per pound to help subsidize commercial fishermen seine net the prodigious schools of bunker (menhaden) from the Peconic River so as to avert a noxious fish die-off. Southampton Town had initially declined to contribute their fair share, but its town board finally agreed (after public pressure) to split the cost, each anteing in one cent per pound. The undertaking was initiated to hopefully thwart a repeat of the immense fish-kill of bunker as had happened in 2009 and then again in 2015. I spoke with several commercial fishermen who said that they are hauling, on average, 25,000 pounds of bunker per day, divided among four boats. Two of the larger boats average approximately 10,000 pounds each, while two of the smaller boats average 2,000 pounds each. At the height of the bunker season, these commercial fishermen—if at all even interested—receive a nominal 8 cents per pound for bunker because at that point the market is already saturated. The additional 4 cents per pound, bringing the total to 12 cents per pound, now makes it worthwhile for the commercial fishermen to ply their trade. Collectively, the two towns will cap the removal at a cost of $15,000; that is, $7,500 each.

The point of all this is to see if the experiment will put a dent in stemming the tide of bunker that die and further pollute the Peconic River and its neighboring bays. I say "further pollute" because these bodies of water are subject to pollution derived from the faulty Riverhead Sewage Treatment Plant at the lower reach of the Peconic River. The commercial fishermen are telling me that they are hardly making a dent in the many millions of bunker that are schooled up in the river. The big question is will the plan head off the invasion of predator fish (namely bluefish) if and when they arrive on the scene, corralling and bottlenecking the bunker in the narrow stretch of the Peconic River, thus preventing the schools from escaping and winding up dead along the river banks and neighboring bays' shorelines. Note that for several weeks, May into June of this year, the bunker have been slowly dying along both shores of the Peconic River because of low dissolved oxygen levels as the result of high nitrogen output. The major culprit is the Riverhead Sewage Treatment Plant, operating at half capacity until it is fixed and functional [upgraded, actually], which was supposed to happen back in March of 2016. The new projected date is August, 2016. Don't hold your breath . . . which you may have to do if an invasion of bluefish suddenly happen upon the scene.


May 31, 2016. Commercial fishermen seine netting live bunker from the Peconic River so as to alleviate a massive bunker die-off. These guys should be praised, applauded, and paid top dollar.


June 29, 2016. Even with the efforts of commercial fishermen seine netting bunker from the Peconic River, we're still seeing dead bunker along the shoreline. Admittedly, not like in 2009 and 2015, but still unsightly and unhealthy.

You may recall that the Riverhead Town Cardboard Boat Races were postponed in 2015 until the Suffolk County Department of Health Services deemed it safe for humans to come in contact with what was two months earlier an obnoxiously odoriferous, slimy mess along both shores of the Peconic River and its neighboring bays—all the way out to Mattituck! The entire area was contaminated with bacteria, parasites, algae Gymnodinium (nitrogen assimilation), and more than a handful of other harmful microorganisms—harmful to humans and/or the environment.

Let's continue back in time to my reporting on the pollution of the upper reaches of the Peconic River, which appeared in Red Room, an on-line literary magazine. In the upper reaches of the Peconic River, a toxic plume comprised of heavy metals (Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) was discovered at the United States Navy's former Northrop Grumman Site in Calverton in 2009.

WHO'S ON FIRST

April 15, 2010

If you recall my letter that I mailed on February 23rd, 2010 to The Honorable Ray Mabus, Secretary of the Navy, I had requested that Mr. Mabus respond after speaking with Gary Berntsen, who is running for Congress, Congressional District 1. I had posed the problem to Mr. Berntsen during the launching of his GOP campaign back in February. At the beginning of April, I received a letter, not from Mr. Mabus, but from a Mr. Roger M. Natsuhara (Acting). That is how he signed off: (Acting). The letterhead reads: THE ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF THE NAVY (ENERGY, INSTALLATIONS & ENVIRONMENT). A quick check on the Internet verified that he was, indeed, the Acting Assistant Secretary of the Navy. I mention this because assistants and acting assistants seem to change as frequently as folks change their underwear. On March 5, 2010, Jackalyne Pfannensteil was appointed Assistant Secretary of the Navy (Energy, Installation and Environment). That appointment occurred 21 days before Mr. Natsuhara sent his letter to me. Isn't that interesting? Anyhow, here is the man's letter to Donna and me:

March 26, 2010

Dear Mr. Banfelder and Ms. Derasmo:

Thank you for your February 23, 2010 letter regarding environmental investigations and cleanup at the Naval Weapons Industrial Reserve Plant in Calverton, New York. I am responding on behalf on [sic] the Secretary of the Navy. The Navy is taking all appropriate actions to investigate and cleanup [sic] this site as quickly as possible.

The Navy is required to follow specific environmental cleanup laws and regulations and has obtained concurrence from the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) to conduct investigation and cleanup actions. NYSDEC concurred in the Navy's short-term remedy to protect the drinking water at the Peconic River Sportsman's Club (PRSC), which consisted of groundwater treatment and monitoring. The PRSC well is the only affected potable water supply in the area. The short-term remedy is in place and Navy is working with PRSC to install a new potable water line. NYSDEC also concurred in removal of 21,000 cubic yards of contaminated soil. That project is scheduled to be completed by May 2010. In December 2009, NYSDEC found that all water samples collected to date were well below water quality standards for the Peconic River. NYSDEC requested Navy to collect additional samples for inclusion in the site cleanup plan, which will be submitted to NYSDEC for concurrence later this year.

The New York State Department of Health is the appropriate agency to address your concerns regarding cancer rates in Suffolk County and fish advisories. Mr. Steve Karpinski has indicated he can address these issues for you and can be reached at (518) 402-7880.

Thank you for sharing your concerns regarding this site. For more detailed and technical information on this matter, I encourage you to attend the next Restoration Advisory Board meeting on April 22, at 7:00 pm at the Calverton Community Center.

Sincerely,
Roger M. Natsuhara
(Acting)

*******


As you will note from Mr. Natsuhara's letter, the man says that, "The PRSC well is the only affected potable water supply in the area." The fact of the matter is that of the fifty-two (52) wells tested in the Calverton/Manorville area, conducted by the Navy and the Suffolk County Health Department, all fifty-two were found to have concentrations of Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs)—some as high as two-hundred (200) times the state's allowable drinking water standards. Mr. Natsuhara conveniently limits the testing to a single well and a single property, not the surrounding areas. Be reminded of the Navy's denials and rhetoric that we have heard in the past. The toxic plume in the Calverton/Manorville area threatens the groundwater in the Peconic River here in Suffolk County, Long Island, New York. We are dealing with Volatile Organic Compounds leaching into the Peconic River. Mr. Berntsen had stated to me at the launching of his campaign that he knows Mr. Mabus personally and would address the matter with him directly.

I waited two weeks and a day before e-mailing Mr. Berntsen, copying him with my letter to the Secretary of the Navy, in order for Mr. Mabus and Mr. Berntsen to converse with regard to this deplorable situation. I did not receive a reply from Mr. Berntsen. After receiving Mr. Natsuhara's letter, not Mr. Mabus's response, I can only assume that a conversation between Mr. Mabus and Mr. Berntsen never transpired. Nor do I think that Mr. Natsuhara was acting in good faith because of the time frame mentioned above. Is this politics as usual? It's a good bet. Here's my e-mail to Mr. Berntsen. We are on a first-name basis; hence the informality:

Original Message

From: Robert Banfelder
Sent: Monday, March 08, 2010 9:38 AM
Subject: US Navy — Toxic Plume

Dear Gary,

At your campaign kick-off meeting at Polish Hall in Riverhead, I mentioned the toxic plume that is caused by the US Navy's cleaning of aircraft [parts] at the Grumman facility in Calverton. You had said that you would get in touch with the Secretary of the Navy regarding this health-threatening issue.

Below is the letter, which I sent to Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus, regarding the issue: [Inserted February 23, 2010 letter]

Donna and I wholeheartedly believe in you as the candidate that will bring us forward while honoring the principles established by our forefathers.

Very best regards,
Bob Banfelder
Donna Derasmo

P.S. Finished Jawbreaker (as you may recall); halfway finished with Human Intelligence, Counterterrorism & National Leadership: A Practical Guide; will start Walk-In shortly.

With regard to the conclusion of Mr. Natsuhara's letter to Donna and me, we will most assuredly attend the next scheduled Restoration Advisory Board's meeting on April 22nd, 2010.

*******

Note: Mr. Berntsen is a former CIA officer, CIA Station Chief of Counterintelligence, and the author of the above-mentioned nonfiction books.

Tomorrow, in sum and substance, we'll take a look at what transpired at one of the Restoration Advisory Board meetings that Donna and I attended.

Stay tuned.

Robert Banfelder:
www.robertbanfelder.com

Award-Winning Crime-Thriller Novelist & Outdoors Writer
Member: Outdoors Writers Association of America
New York State Outdoor Writers Association
Long Island Outdoor Communicators Network
Cablevision TV Host Special Interests with Robert Banfelder & Donna Derasmo
Bi-monthly contributor to Nor'east Saltwater








Bob's nine novels—including two award winners

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.

May 02, 2016

New York State DEC In Denial ~ Can All These Reporters Be Wrong? I Think Not.

by Bob Banfelder

When you make a serious allegation, you had best be ready to support it. We continue with the Riverhead Sewage Treatment Plant and its contribution to the continued pollution of the Peconic River. You'll recall that Joseph DiMura, Director of Bureau of Water Compliance for the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, stated in his letter to Donna and me that the Riverhead WasteWater Treatment Plant (WWTP) "has never discharged raw sewage into the Peconic River." In response, Donna and I sent a second letter to Governor Cuomo, in which I cite example after example to support the fact that raw sewage was, indeed, dumped into the Peconic River on several occasions. We have not yet heard back from the governor or Mr. DiMura. Below is our letter to the governor:


April 2, 2016

The Honorable Andrew M. Cuomo
Governor of the State of New York
NYS Capitol Building
Albany, N.Y. 12224

Dear Governor Cuomo:

First off, I want to thank you and the appropriate member(s) of your administration for directing Donna's and my letter to you regarding the pollution of the Peconic River to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation; namely, Joseph DiMura, Director of Bureau of Water Compliance, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC). Mr. DiMura's reply letter was in response to our letter to you. Mr. DiMura states unequivocally that the Riverhead Wastewater Treatment Plant (WWTP) has never discharged raw sewage into the Peconic River." This is simply not the case. I'll quote verbatim from the second paragraph of Mr. DiMura's letter so that there will be no confusion:

"Regarding the Riverhead WWTP, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) has reviewed the operation of the WWTP and has determined that it has been operating and treating sewage on a continuous basis and has never discharged raw sewage into the Peconic River. [The] DEC is aware of several past exceedances of the effluent limitations specified in the discharge permit for the WWTP."

Mr. DiMura is either mistaken or flat-out prevaricating. Giving the man a bit of wiggle room, perhaps he is equivocating semantically, watering down the notion that untreated sewage is not really raw sewage. I have addressed this issue on our Cablevision Channel 20 TV show, Special Interests with Bob & Donna, airing five consecutive Saturdays at 4 p.m. beginning today, April 2, 2016, reaching viewers residing in Wading River to Orient Point and Eastport to Montauk. Also, I maintain a monthly online report for Nor'east Saltwater (www.noreast.com). In both venues, I quoted sources from our local newspapers who stated unequivocally that "raw sewage" "untreated sewage" had been dumped into the Peconic River.

In one newspaper, The Southampton Press, is an article penned by reporter Shaye Weaver on June 3, 2015. The piece is titled Bunker Die-Off Investigated in Peconic River, Reeves Bay, in Flanders [Bay]. In the article, Ms. Weaver refers to an "incident" in which Southampton Town Trustee, Eric Shultz said that ". . . 2.5 million gallons of raw sewage from Riverhead Town's sewage treatment facility was dumped into the Peconic River last November. The sewage was just a mile and a half away from shellfish growing grounds," Shultz continued. The Riverhead Sewage Treatment Plant is in proximity to its neighboring Reeves Bay, connecting Flanders Bay, Great Peconic Bay, Little Peconic Bay, and beyond.

This article is in sharp contrast to Mr. DiMura's comment stating that the Riverhead Wastewater Treatment Plant has "never discharged raw sewage into the Peconic River." Additionally, an article appeared in the RiverheadLocal, written by Katie Blasi on December 15, 2015, headlined Peconic River contaminated in downtown Riverhead by sewage discharge, county officials issue advisory. I'll quote directly from that article.

"In one sample of the river water in downtown Riverhead last week collected by the county, coliform levels were four times the plant's permit discharge limit, Riverhead Sewer District Superintendent Michael Reichel said today." Mr. DiMura, in his letter to us, leaves out the fact that those "exceedances of the effluent limitations" were four times greater than what the DEC permit allows.

Earlier in time (December 6th, 2014), staff writer Tim Gannon for the Riverhead News–Review wrote an article titled Riverhead sewer discharge exceeded fecal limits 3x in November. I'll quote Mr. Gannon.

"Michael Reichel, the town's sewer plant superintendent, confirmed Friday the plant exceeded the amount of fecal coliform bacteria it is permitted to discharge into the Peconic on Nov. 26, as well as two other days in November—on Nov. 5 and Nov. 19."

Given the information I have presented here, I would like you to take these specific issues and statements up with Mr. DiMura. A written response from your office that addresses these concerns and discrepancies as stated by Mr. DiMura would be very much appreciated.

Sincerely,
Robert Banfelder
www.robertbanfelder.com

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 Long Island viewers.

Donna Derasmo
*******


Our Cablevision Channel 20 TV show, Special Interests with Bob & Donna, will continue to address the water pollution issues referencing the Peconic River, beginning May 7th at 4 p.m., rerunning each consecutive Saturday in May; i.e., May 7th,14th, 21st, and the 28th. The show reaches viewers residing in Wading River to Orient Point and Eastport to Montauk. If you reside out of area, please ask a friend to tape this show for you.

For my June 1st, blog, I'll swing back in time to the upper regions of the Peconic River to show you how the United States Navy was handling the pledged cleanup operation of toxic [Volatile Organic Compounds ~ VOCs] chemicals.

Stay tuned.

We want to see more of this . . .


4- to 16-inch spring (2016) schoolies caught and released on Bob's go-to Kastmaster tin with epoxied-on eyes.

. . . not this.


Dead herring gull next to decaying fish ~ along the North Shore of the Peconic River, April 2016.

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 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.




May 01, 2016

Riverhead Sewage Treatment Plant ~ A Continual Source of Peconic River Pollution

by Bob Banfelder

If you have been following my monthly reports, you know that Donna and I are addressing serious water-quality matters referencing both the upper and lower regions of the Peconic River. The Peconic River is the longest river on Long Island, originating close to Brookhaven National Laboratory, flowing easterly toward several bays: Reeves Bay, Flanders Bay, Great Peconic Bay, Little Peconic Bay, and beyond. Concerning the toxic pollution issue relating to the Riverhead Sewage Treatment Plant, I'm sure you will recall that Donna and I wrote to and received an immediate response from Governor Cuomo, who stated that he would forward our concerns to the appropriate department. It was a signed personal letter from the governor himself.

Well over a month later, Donna and I received a letter from the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, Director of Bureau of Water Compliance, Joseph DiMura, P.E. (Professional Engineer). The letter was in response to our letter to Governor Cuomo. Mr. DiMura stated unequivocally that the Riverhead Sewage Treatment Plant [officially referred to as the WasteWater Treatment Plant (WWTP)] has never discharged raw sewage into the Peconic River. Oh, really? Au contraire. I'll quote Joseph DiMura verbatim so that there will be no confusion:

"Regarding the Riverhead WWTP, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) has reviewed the operation of the WWTP and has determined that it has been operating and treating sewage on a continuous basis and has never discharged raw sewage into the Peconic River."

On our Channel 20 Cablevision show for April 2016, Special Interests with Bob and Donna, we cited one of several articles to verify that Mr. DiMura's statement is simply not true. In support of that contention, I offer up facts. Example:

The Southampton Press had an article penned by reporter Shaye Weaver on June 3, 2015. The piece is titled Bunker Die-Off Investigated in Peconic River, Reeves Bay, in Flanders [Bay]. In the article Ms. Weaver refers to an "incident" in which Southampton Town Trustee Eric Shultz said that ". . . 2.5 million gallons of raw sewage from Riverhead Town's sewage treatment facility was dumped into the Peconic River last November. The sewage was just a mile and a half away from shellfish growing grounds," Shultz continued.

The Riverhead Sewage Treatment Plant is in proximity to our neighboring bays mentioned in my first paragraph. Mr. DiMura is either mistaken or flat-out prevaricating. Giving the man a bit of wiggle room, perhaps he is equivocating semantically, watering down the notion that untreated sewage is not really raw sewage in his view. On our Cablevision show, I quoted several sources from newspapers who state unequivocally that "raw sewage" "untreated sewage" had been dumped into the Peconic River, period. A second letter to Governor Como documenting these facts, along with several pieces of support, was sent to the governor on April 2nd, 2016. As of April 30th, we have had no response. We'll see what happens before we take further action.

For tomorrow's May 2nd blog, I'll share the April 2, 2016 letter that Donna and I sent to Governor Cuomo in response to Joseph DiMura, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, Director of Bureau of Water Compliance, in which Mr. DiMura stated that the Riverhead WasteWater Treatment Plant (WWTP) has never dumped raw sewage into the Peconic. I'll cite example after example to support the fact that raw sewage was, indeed, dumped into the Peconic River on several occasions.

In yet another article dated April 7, 2016, Riverhead News-Review reporter Tim Gannon informs the public that the Riverhead Sewage Treatment Plant upgrade has once again been delayed.

Stay tuned.

We want to see more of this . . .



8- to 10-inch—all-the-action you want—early spring 2016 schoolies (Good Friday), caught and released on the Peconic River . . . prior to a small herring-family fish die-off.

. . . not this:


By the fifth week of spring, we note a small die-off of decaying fish along our shoreline of the Peconic River: one or two decomposing fish spaced approximately every thirty or so yards.

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 viewers.

Bob Banfelder's Nonfiction Handbooks:

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 Bob's Web site.






April 02, 2016

The U.S Navy's Stalling, Studying, Waiting Game

by Bob Banfelder

In my April 1st report titled Arrogance at Its Highest Level, we saw that the United States Navy, addressing the toxic plume polluting the Peconic River, did an about-face—verbally. The Secretary of the Navy, Ray Mabus, made promises to undertake a cleanup of the plume. However, action speaks louder than words. Let's take a look at my article covering these events. No one said that it was going to be easy.

JUSTICE DELAYED IS JUSTICE DENIED: REMEDY VS. NAVY'S RHETORIC

November 14, 2009

As a leopard does not change its spots, the United States Navy, true to form, is not veering from its original position. Its position is one steeped in a stew of procrastination. In my blog for Red Room (an online community for writers) dated August 17, 2009, I had said where I believed this matter was headed. I was not wrong. Secretary of the Navy, Ray Mabus, had pledged to do whatever it takes to clean up the toxic plume in the Peconic River. Yet, at a November 5th meeting between community members on the Navy's Restoration Advisory Board and the Navy's remedial cleanup project team, procrastination, at the Navy's behest, continued. Advisory board members had requested that the Navy install a "pump-and-treat system" in the midst of the extensive toxic plume, which is polluting the Peconic River. However, the Navy's remedial project manager, Lora Fly, who oversees the so-called federal cleanup, denied the Board's temporary measure as the Navy continues to drag its feet. Be reminded that tests of wells in the area conducted by the Navy and the county health department have found concentrations of Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) two hundred (200) times the state's allowable drinking water standards.

One member of the Restoration Advisory Board, Bob Conklin, a retired biology teacher, had said: "We've been concerned for years about what's going into the Peconic River. We're not seeing anything concrete and positive toward mitigating the situation. I can't see how putting in one well is going to hurt or cost you a lot of money. We're not asking for a major cleanup [at this point]. Just show something positive . . . instead of talking about it. You get tired of this after a while."

In sum and substance, Lora Fly responded with: "We have to look at what technology is out there and what is the best way to handle this. Until we have a full understanding of what's out there, we can't just go ahead and throw in a treatment system."

Conklin bristled at Lora Fly's dilatory comments. He countered by succinctly concluding: "This could take years and years, and then more years." And Bob Conklin is oh, so correct. The Navy's continued procrastination is altogether evident as it has been well-aware of the situation for at least a decade.

Reporting on the health department's latest findings, geologist Andrew Rapiejko stated: "We've identified, in this sampling round, two distinct discharge points . . . . it is getting into the river. It is [the plume] discharging."

The Navy is criminally responsible for the toxic pollution flowing from the former Grumman property in Calverton, New York, into the Peconic River. The Navy persists in giving us rhetoric instead of remedies. As a leopard does not change its spots, the United States Navy is not even bothering to camouflage theirs. I would have to say that the folks here in the Riverhead area of Long Island are in a proverbial stew of procrastination.
…….

For next month, I'll continue covering the fecal coliform pollution issue at the other end of the Peconic River; that is, the focus on the dumping of raw sewage into the Peconic River at the north foot of the 105 Bridge in Riverhead. We'll examine the prevarication and semantics offered up by the Department of Environmental Conservation, (DEC). Too, I'll continue with my ongoing chronicle concerning the toxic pollution of the upper reaches of the Peconic River as well as the United State Navy's rhetoric and procrastination concerning clean-up of the toxic plume that resulted in exceeding New York State's allowable drinking water standards by as high as two hundred (200) times. Yes, you read that number correctly earlier. Any wonder as to why the cancer rate is abnormally high in both Nassau and Suffolk counties? Quoted below is the initial text referencing the state's Water Quality Standards and Classifications:

"Water Quality Standards are the basis for programs to protect the state waters. Standards set forth the maximum allowable levels of chemical pollutants and are used as the regulatory targets for permitting, compliance, enforcement, and monitoring and assessing the quality of the state's waters. Waters are classified for their best uses (fishing, source of drinking water, etc.) and standards (and guidance values) are set to protect those uses."

I'm sure we all want to see more of this …


Bob with a 14-pound bluefish taken on his hand-tied mantis shrimp fly


Our Cablevision Channel 20 TV show, Special Interests with Bob & Donna, will address the water pollution issues of the Peconic River beginning today, April 2nd at 4 p.m., rerunning each consecutive Saturday in April. The show reaches viewers residing in Wading River to Orient Point and Eastport to Montauk. If you reside out of area, please ask a friend to tape this show for you.
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 viewers.

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

Fiction:
Award-Winning Crime Thriller Novelist (nine novels to date)

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








April 01, 2016

Arrogance at its Highest Level

by Bob Banfelder

Referencing my March 2nd, 2016 blog for Nor'east Saltwater, titled Fighting Back & Winning, I said that I would take you back in time to August 17th, 2009 in continuing the fight against the United States Navy's refusal to clean up the toxic plume it created at the former Northrop Grumman plant back in 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 were taken and found to be as high as two hundred (200) times New York State's drinking water standards! Here it is, folks. Please read, realize, and remember that we as a people can initiate change if we voice our concerns sensibly, loudly, clearly, and persistently.

THE UNITED STATES NAVY DOES A 180—VERBALLY

August 17, 2009

You'll recall in my last blog [Red Room's online community of writers] that Navy Secretary Ray Mabus and Assistant Navy Secretary for Installations and Environment B.J. Penn had taken a firm position as conveyed through Navy spokeswoman Lieutenant j.g. Steghrr in declaring that the "Calverton site [the former Northrop Grumman plant] does not present a health or safety risk." The secretary of the Navy has now done a 180, promising to do whatever it takes to rectify the matter.

Senator Schumer said he recently received a pledge from the Secretary of the Navy, Ray Mabus: "The federal government will do all it can to protect those who live and work in Calverton, as well as wildlife in the area, from the pollution," as was quoted in the Riverhead News~Review. But talk is cheap. Let's listen to the language of another Navy spokesperson, Jim Brantley, who now says that the Navy is intent on returning the land around the Calverton plant, as much as possible, to the way it was in the 1950s. "As long as it takes," Mr. Bradley pledged. Yet the Navy has been monitoring the plume since the 1990s, maintaining that the toxic compounds have been dissipating naturally as they flow away from the Grumman property via a process called natural attenuation. The fluid body has been running its course for better than half a century! In less than a week, I've learned that the plume, which was recently reported to be at least a quarter of a mile wide, is now known to extend better than a third of a mile. Additionally, the volatile substances run half a mile south of the plant and have found their way into the banks of the Peconic River. I'm not optimistic concerning the outcome. I see procrastination in the picture. I hear rhetoric. Allow me to illustrate by positing deferred measures that are sure to follow:

The Navy's remedial project manager, Lora Fly, who oversees the federal cleanup efforts at the Calverton site, said that the Navy's goal with regard to the contaminated (toxic) groundwater "is to reach levels that are in the [state] regulations. The overall goal is to do that," she continued. "But just like anything else, you're going to have to do it in stages. I'm not saying by tomorrow we're going to have that done, but that's the overall goal, and we will be working toward that goal."

"Small technical meetings," will follow in the fall, it is reported. That is five weeks away. Why not earlier? When in the fall will these meetings commence (in the middle of the season or at its end)? Of course, meetings will be followed by a Corrective Measures Study—or studies, which will "evaluate the feasibility and potential benefits of various remedial alternatives for the plume," writes an Albany-based Departmental of Environmental Conservation engineer geologist.

And so it shall continue (meetings and studies, compromises and concessions), ad infinitum, is my pessimistic outlook. I truly hope I'm wrong, but I rarely am mistaken, for I've been dealing with federal, state, and local governments for more years than the Navy has been polluting the Peconic River. Action speaks louder than words.
…….


Our Cablevision Channel 20 TV show, Special Interests with Bob & Donna, will address the water pollution issues of the Peconic River beginning this Saturday, April 2nd at 4 p.m., rerunning each consecutive Saturday in April. The show reaches viewers residing in Wading River to Orient Point and Eastport to Montauk. If you reside out of area, please ask a friend to tape this show for you.

In short order, I'll be returning my focus back to the other end of the Peconic River, where raw sewage from the Riverhead Sewage Treatment Plant, having operated at half capacity, has been dumped into the Peconic River, right beneath the 105 bridge in Riverhead, just 1.5 miles away from our shellfish grounds. Whether we are anglers, boaters, baymen—or anyone connected with on-the- water activities—we, especially, must voice our concerns. Landlubbers, too, must realize that Long Island residents reside atop a water table, a reservoir of aquifers that provides our drinking water. Landfills must be monitored for toxic waste that has the potential to leach into those waters; that is, the Upper Glacial Aquifer, the Lloyd Aquifer, and the Magothy Aquifer.

Donna and I want to see more of this …


First mate Dan with Donna's 16-pound striped bass caught aboard Brooklyn Girl Fishing Charter, out of Orient Point. Let's help support our Long Island captains.

. . . not a succession of fish kills along with a mass of diamondback terrapin turtles that have succumbed to having digested toxic shellfish in the fragile Peconic estuary, comprising both the north and south forks of Long Island, a treasure that is slowly being compromised.

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 viewers.

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


Fiction:
Award-Winning Crime Thriller Novelist (nine novels to date)

Note: All synopses and summaries may be viewed on my Web site http://www.robertbanfelder.com. See link for Synopses: Published Fiction & Nonfiction.
An entire list of my works may be viewed under the Publications link on my Web site.




March 02, 2016

Fighting Back & Winning

by Bob Banfelder

On February 4th, 2016, I had sent copies of my Nor'east Saltwater blogs titled Really? (January 4th, 2016) and Playing the Trump Card (February 1st, 2016), respectively, off to the powers that be. Donna's and my letter is for your perusal. It's how we (meaning all of us working together) get things done. If you were to take the time to write to these people, too, voicing your concerns referencing the pollution of our waterways, it would have a powerful follow-up impact.

After reading this letter, you can see how I had begun to address the Navy's initial stand on refusing to address the poisoning of our precious resource, the Peconic River and its outlying bays: Flanders Bay, Reeves Bay, Great Peconic Bay, Little Peconic Bay, and beyond. United we stand, folks.

February 4, 2016

The Honorable Andrew M. Cuomo
U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand
U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer
NYS Senator Kenneth P. LaValle
Congressman Lee Zeldin
Assemblyman Anthony H. Palumbo

Dear Sir/Madam:

Enclosed are two articles titled Really? and Playing the Trump Card that I wrote for Nor'east Saltwater (www.noreast.com) regarding pollution of the Peconic River by the Riverhead Sewage Treatment Plant (of late) as well as the United States Navy's initial defiance and ongoing, long-term Calverton/Manorville toxic plume progress.

Donna and I ask that you read the two articles and address what can be done about these issues because the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation and the Long Island Regional Planning Council are not approaching these matters pragmatically. These two organizations, through their Long Island Nitrogen Action Plan, are setting their sights solely on residential septic systems and cesspools, purposely ignoring the detrimental roles that the Riverhead Sewage Treatment Plant and the United States Navy have contributed to polluting both ends of the Peconic River, respectively, and its surrounding bays.

At a February 2, 2016 public meeting in Riverhead, Jim Tierney (DEC Deputy Commissioner for Water Resources) stated that he did not want folks to address any contaminant subject matter other than the nitrogen issue as it pertains to septic systems and cesspools during the Q and A portion of the agenda. That would conveniently shift the onus away from the actual culprits; that is, the Riverhead Sewage Treatment Plant and the United States Navy.

The following is specifically directed to Congressman Lee Zeldin and Assemblyman Anthony Palumbo because of suitable proximity for discussion: Donna and I host a Cablevision TV Public Access show titled Special Interests with Bob Banfelder & Donna Derasmo, which broadcasts throughout the East End of Long Island. Donna and I, along with our director and host of Cablevision's Off The Cuff, Enzo Magnozzi, would like to come into your office any time after mid-March and tape a half hour show regarding these issues. Our contact information is listed above.

We look forward to all of your specific responses in writing on the actions your office is taking to remedy this debacle.

Sincerely,
Robert Banfelder
www.robertbanfelder.com

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

Donna Derasmo

.......


As of this writing, we have received a letter from Governor Cuomo, who will forward our concerns to the appropriate department. We'll see.
.......


My earlier writing for an online literary blog referencing the United States Navy's defiance in addressing the toxic plume matter moves from July 31, 2009 to August 12, 2009.

THE NAVY'S NONCOM-POOPS

August 12, 2009

No sooner than I had reported on the United State Navy's firm stance of insisting that the toxic chemicals (Volatile Organic Compounds—VOCs) found polluting the Peconic River will simply go away through "natural attenuation," a Navy spokeswoman, Lieutenant j.g. Laura Steghrr, has most recently reinforced that position by stating, "The Calverton site does not present a health or safety risk." The lieutenant j.g. goes on to say: "Current sampling shows the concentration of volatile organic compounds detected in the Peconic River is lower than appreciable values and ecological values. Additionally," she continues, "concentration levels in groundwater have remained steady or decreased over time . . . ."

Navy Secretary Ray Mabus, Assistant Navy Secretary for Installations & Environment BJ Penn, and Navy spokeswoman Lieutenant j.g. Stegherr have apparently lost sight of the fact that the toxic chemicals found in the Peconic River are already as high as two hundred (200) times the state's drinking water standards; the toxic plume is more than a quarter of a mile wide. Reaffirming those facts, (former) N.Y. Congressman Tim Bishop has fired back with a response: "I take exception with any notion that the plume ‘does not present a health or safety risk.' The reason that my colleagues and I have called for an advanced remediation plan is precisely because that the full extent of the risk is currently unknown." I believe that the congressman fell just short of insisting that the Navy and its commissioned nincompoops sign up for remedial arithmetic and be decommissioned to the status of noncom-poops.

Once again, fodder for my novels, folks. The truth can, indeed, be stranger than fiction.
.......

A reminder that the above was written for a prestigious online literary site.

On February 25th, 2016, the Riverhead News-Review quoted Governor Andrew Cuomo as announcing ". . . a $6 million plan to study Long Island's water quality problems. Let's find out what's going on," he added.

As I've been continuously reporting, many of us know—especially those of us who live in and fish the North Fork area—exactly what is 'going on' and who is to blame.


In years prior to the fish-kill: Graham Freeman caught this beauty of a weakfish during his visit from Royal Tunbridge Wells, England. We want to see more of this . . .


. . . and this. Donna with a nice striper.



We don't want to see more of this.


My upcoming April 1st 2016 blog will take us back in time to August 17th, 2009, titled, THE UNITED STATES NAVY DOES A 180—VERBALLY.

Stay tuned.


Robert Banfelder

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

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


Fiction:
Award-Winning Crime Thriller Novelist (nine novels to date)

Note: All synopses and summaries may be viewed on my Web site http://www.robertbanfelder.com. See link for Synopses: Published Fiction & Nonfiction.
Also, all of my works, including articles, may be viewed under the Publications link on my Web site.





March 01, 2016

Poisoning the Well

by Bob Banfelder

Addressing my blogs titled Really? (January 4th) and Playing the Trump Card (February 1st), we shared twenty-eight back and forth written comments. The majority were from total strangers; very refreshing. That did not count the phone ringing off the hook from friends, acquaintances, and other concerned parties. Water pollution affects us all whether it is the Peconic River and its connecting bays on the East End of Long Island or Flint, Michigan. You'll see in what direction as well as the weight your comments carried in my next blog. But for the moment, I'll continue with where I left off last month.
We move forward with the Peconic River pollution issue from April 1, 2009 to July 31, 2009, staying with local politics. If you've missed a beat along the way, please refer back to my January/February blogs as cited above.

THE UNITED STATES NAVY'S POISONING OF THE PECONIC RIVER

July 31, 2009

A lot has happened since my April 1, 2009 report concerning what started as the United States Navy's four-decade-old initial state of—perhaps—naiveté, but which has (as of this date) culminated to the point of sheer arrogance and gross negligence on behalf of this force. Be reminded that the United States Navy is under the authority of the Department of Defense. Hence, we are dealing with a faction of the federal government. The federal government is not going to yield to either a state's or a local government's demands, not even when United States New York Senators Charles E. Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand, along with Congressman Tim Bishop first "demanded" that the United States Navy stop insisting, as it has done for more than a decade as the plume spread, that the toxic chemicals found in the Peconic River are simply going to go away. The United States Navy has taken a firm stand that the contamination (it loves the use of euphemisms) will eventually dissipate, via "natural attenuation" it emphatically stated.

When will these volatile organic compounds, VOCs, derived from solvents that were used to clean airplane parts at the now defunct Grumman naval weapons plant in Calverton, and that have already leached into the groundwater, trifle away? When hell freezes over? Perhaps during the next ice age as the Navy has moved at glacial speed in order to address the matter seriously. The United States Navy insists on more testing in lieu of an immediate cleanup. How inane is that in light of the fact that the toxic chemicals found are already as high as two hundred (200) times the state's drinking water standards? How irresponsible is the United States Navy? Allow me to answer that last question succinctly. It is criminally irresponsible.

According to recent tests conducted by Suffolk County health department, the toxic plume is heretofore, conservatively, a quarter of a mile wide and 115 feet deep, and that is only because it is as deep as workers can dig. A geologist for the health department, Andrew Rapiejko, said, "Typically, you would like to see the end of the plume; you drill until you get a couple of wells that are clean, and that's when you know you've found the end. We haven't done that yet." All of the wells tested, fifty-two (52) of them, all contained volatile organic compounds.

Want to know where I find fodder for my novels? Look no further than the facts surrounding a story as such. In this way, you can educate your readers as well as entertain. In my novels titled The Teacher and The Author, both of them award-winners for 2006 and 2007 respectively—receiving "Best Suspense Thrillers" recognition—I traverse such territories. The cancer rate for Suffolk County, Long Island, New York, is certainly alarming. On a more personal note, I have locked horns with the United States Navy for over forty years, begging a thorough investigation to correct an egregious wrong, later, demanding such—all to no avail. Let us applaud the three lawmakers cited above and wish them success in toppling a criminal force. I use the term judiciously. One day soon, when I'm on our talk show, I'll elaborate fully, differentiating between factual accounts and fictional prose. Hopefully, official naval heads will roll while their bodies reel.
……



Tom Gahan with a nice catch of all-you-want snappers and cocktail-size bluefish in the Peconics before the fishing did a 180 during the last two years.


Tom Gahan caught this nice 29 inch bluefish on a MadBite ½ ounce Curved Spoon modified with paste-on eyes. This was the norm prior to the last two years. We want to see more of this . . .


. . . not this.


In short order, we'll move onto THE UNITED STATES NAVY DOES A 180—VERBALLY. But for the moment, let's home in on the Riverhead News-Review February 11, 2016 headline titled Fish kills ‘could continue to be the norm' ~ Study by state DEC eyes last year's enormous Peconic River die-off. The article is by Chris Lisinski, Staff Writer. Do you see in what direction this is going and why we have to nip this in the bud, folks?

Robert Banfelder

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

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


Fiction:
Award-Winning Crime Thriller Novelist (nine novels to date)

Note: All synopses and summaries may be viewed on my Web site http://www.robertbanfelder.com. See link for Synopses: Published Fiction & Nonfiction.
Also, all of my works, including articles, may be viewed under the Publications link on my Web site.





February 02, 2016

Separating Fact From Fiction

by Bob Banfelder

Oh, so many of you folks have asked for elaboration concerning the facts as they pertain to the contamination of the Peconic River and its bays. In sum and substance you had asked: "Tell me more about those articles you wrote, Bob." "How do you fight bureaucracy?" "My family and I camp, picnic, swim, and fish at Indian Island Park in Riverhead. I want to hear more about this pollution matter." "Your blog is very upsetting to me because I clam in the Peconics."

Also, a few folks wisely stated: "Although the blog isn't specifically about fishing, it is, because if we don't have clean rivers and bays then we won't have any fish or shellfish to enjoy anymore."


Bunker die-offs are occurring more frequently in the Peconics. This die-off reached all the way out east to Mattituck on both shores. Said Christopher Gobbler, a professor at the School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences at Stony Brook University, "I've seen small kills around here but I've never seen anything like this." We also saw a terrapin turtle die-off this past year.


Enzo Magnozzi and Bob with a couple of nice weakfish. We would all like to see more of this—not like the top picture of the die-off.

And so you shall hear more about this debacle.

I'll begin at the beginning. As many of you know, I am a mystery/thriller novelist as well as an outdoors writer. Referencing my fiction, I weave topical facts throughout my works. Eight of my nine novels are of a rather dark nature; they portray serial killers. Two of those novels are award-winners, one of which is titled The Author. I got the idea for the story surrounding facts that you are now somewhat familiar with—the Peconic River plume. Here is how the story came about in a piece that I wrote for a prestigious literary site. What you will read here concerning the Peconic River is sheer fact, not fiction.

A Toxic Plume and A Serial Killer Thriller

April 1, 2009

Back in 1991, Donna and I were very fortunate to find a slice of heaven. We purchased a home situated on the Peconic River in Riverhead, Long Island. A recent article titled Toxic Plume Threatens Peconic River, published in our local newspaper, The News~Review, caught my eye. Donna and I fish the Peconic River and the bays beyond, so this story certainly grabbed my attention. It is quite evident that the defunct Grumman airfield in Calverton, where aircraft for the United States Navy were built, commencing in April of 1954, has significantly contributed to polluting the upper reaches of the Peconic River. The culprits were chemicals used to clean those airplanes. I've been addressing this matter for years. Senator Charles Schumer has called for the Navy to commence a clean-up operation of the site to prevent further damage to the waterways.

Referencing serial killers, I research and delve into the slick, sick mind of the serial murderer. In order to build verisimilitude into my works, I attend trials; for example, the Robert Shulman serial killer proceedings. I have lectured at Kirby Forensic Psychiatric Center on Ward's Island, New York, regarding that trial. I had made it my business to interview heads of law enforcement such as Detective Lieutenant John Gierasch, head of Suffolk County Homicide (now retired). Too, I sought out many peripheral players. You may be asking yourself, "But what does a toxic plume have to do with serial killers?" My thriller titled The Author explores an apparent psychopath who is ostensibly obsessed with the pollution of our environment and brutally murders the loved ones of those he deems guilty, while those actually responsible live to suffer interminably. Initially, the police believe they have an eco-terrorist on their hands, but authorities, along with my protagonist, Justin Barnes—a covert operative for Suffolk County homicide—soon discover that they are dealing with a prolific serial killer.

The Peconic River has been in the news many times concerning heavy metals that are harbored in its depths. That is what motivated me to write The Author. I write to entertain, but I also write to educate the reader.

Suffolk County, Long Island is a magnet for cancer. That is a fact. I delve into the issue with devastating documentation. Too many lives succumb to this dreaded disease, which was my impetus for writing The Author. The United States Navy, in its naiveté and neglect, deserves, to a large degree, blatant blame and the shame in polluting the upper reaches of the Peconic River. This is but a facet of cause and effect.
…….
What will follow is a piece titled
The United States Navy's Poisoning of the Peconic River
Fact, not fiction. Stay tuned.



Robert Banfelder
http://www.robertbanfelder.com
Long
Island Outdoor Communicators Network
New York State Outdoor Writers Association
Outdoor Writers Association of America
Nonfiction:
Fishing Handbook
Hunting Handbook (available mid February 2016)
Fiction:
Award-Winning Mystery/Thriller Writer (nine novels to date)

February 01, 2016

Playing the Trump Card

by Bob Banfelder

Comments received from readers referencing my January 4th report for Nor'east Saltwater, titled Really? really got me to thinking broadly outside the box. Some folks were totally nonplussed to learn that not only does the Riverhead Sewage Treatment Plant pollute the Peconic River by dumping raw sewage into her, but that the United States Navy had released toxic Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC) two hundred (200) times New York State's allowable drinking water standard. The plume was discovered in 2009. These decades-old heavy metals, dating back to 1954, created a toxic plume in the Peconic River, polluting area ground water wells in and around Calverton/Manorville. The matter was further compounded by the fact that the United States Navy initially refused to do anything about it until push came to shove. Many of us fought indefatigably. Only then did the Navy reluctantly act. I had written ten articles covering this issue for Red Room, a prestigious online literary site. Corrective measures were finally taken, but to date (seven years later) it is still not a fait accompli. Area residents have been handed a double whammy, a two-fold punch hitting virtually each end of the Peconic River. While several concerned folks responded by writing comments on Nor'east Saltwater referencing last month's report, a good-many friends and acquaintances commented via telephone. Issues like these only get resolved when people unite and take action.

In handling such serious matters, some people start the ball rolling by contacting their elected state senators, representatives, and/or local legislators. It's often a long and grueling process before anything—if at all—ever gets done. Trust me. I've battled bureaucracies and have the scars to prove it. Other folks may wait until the penultimate hour and address the matter indirectly by casting their vote at the ballot box, hoping that their do-nothing politician(s) will be voted out of office, praying that their candidate of choice will bring about positive change. This brings me to the next point—voting in general. By way of confession, I'm about to go out on a limb here, but I feel that I must.
Going Back In Time

I have never voted in a presidential or mayoral election [the latter when having lived in New York City]. As a matter of fact, I had never voted locally until most recently (2015). The latter was my vote cast for a Republican challenger to the office of Riverhead Town Supervisor; the councilwoman lost to the incumbent. But she did the right thing by fighting for the right reasons on other important issues for her constituents. Therefore, she had Donna's and my vote.

Referencing my reluctance to vote in a presidential or mayoral election is based on my experiences in having worked on the 1964 Barry Goldwater for president/1965 William F. Buckley, Jr. for mayor (N.Y.) campaigns. Yes, I realize that I'm dating myself. My reasons for not voting were simple. Although both gentlemen were good men and told it like it was, neither stood any chance of winning. As a matter of fact, on the light side, when Bill Buckley was asked what he would do if he was elected mayor, he quipped, "I'd demand a recount." Both men were buried in a landslide victory by their opponents. I, admittedly, was a resigned defeatist. As I continued working in the political arena, it left a veritable bad taste in my mouth. Hence, I avoided voting altogether. I became indifferent.

As to how this brief confession pertains to the pollution of our precious Peconic River relates to its effluence and carries with it a different kind of contamination. That is, defeatism. Many of us have become indifferent on many important issues. Consequently, we allow for the disgraceful and dangerous inaction on the part of our federal, state, and local governments to continue on a perilous course. We allow for the press to suppress important information. For example, you do not bury an important story in the back pages of a newspaper. You do not follow with a brief follow-up piece still obscured within its pages, saying that everything is or will be okay when it is not. The Peconic River and its neighboring bays are treasures that have been and are continually being abused. ‘Keep these matters as quiet as you can until we have things worked out and under control,' is the way this political machinery operates. Only when our voices become loud enough, only when our collective voices are heard as one, will positive action be initiated and jump-start the jarring, rusty bureaucratic gears that impede and gum up the works.

Moving Forward

Allow me a moment of presumptuousness to tell you how to begin to fix anything from a dying river to a failing country, for it will take bold and broad strokes to correct the egregious wrongs that have been done to our nation and its resources. It starts with a single vote. I will for the very first time vote in a presidential election for a man who will initiate great changes sorely needed in this country of ours. I do not know Donald Trump as I knew Barry Goldwater and Bill Buckley. But I believe The Donald can get the nomination, and I believe he can be elected president of the United States. Over the course of years, I've learned to work from the top down; that is, I deal with the head and not the feet.

I truly believe that Trump will not be beholding to anyone, while other candidates, as a matter of course, must. It's the way our system works. I wish for clean waters. Donna and I wish to eat the fish and shellfish that we harvest for our table without fear of contamination.


Bob and Donna with a nice harvest of clams taken from the Peconic Bay


My fishing and clamming buddy, Paul Gianelli, hiding behind his beautiful 22-inch weakfish

While winter, for most of us, is on hold till spring arrives, I ask that you reflect on these issues. I'll conclude by saying that liberal thinking [not necessarily liberals] has put us in harm's way—referencing our airways, byways, and waterways. It's time for positive change. We the people must dramatically change current policy in order for our society to regain its strength as a polluted river must undergo positive change in order for it to return to its former sustaining self.

Important Meeting Notice

Donna and I will be attending the Long Island Nitrogen Action Plan Public Meeting at 1 p.m. on Tuesday, February 2nd at Suffolk County Community College, Culinary Arts Center, 20 East Main Street, Riverhead. This meeting is being hosted by the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation and the Long Island Regional Planning Council.


Robert Banfelder
http://www.robertbanfelder.com
Long
Island Outdoor Communicators Network
New York State Outdoor Writers Association
Outdoor Writers Association of America
Nonfiction:
Fishing Handbook
Hunting Handbook (available mid February 2016)
Fiction:
Award-Winning Mystery/Thriller Writer (nine novels to date)





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