The former Camp Hero (now known as Camp Hero State Park) is a 468.69-acre site located in Montauk, Suffolk County, New York and was utilized for various training activities during the Revolutionary War, the War of 1812, the Spanish American War, World War I, and World War II. During and after World War II it was utilized as a Coastal Defense Installation to defend approaches to New York via three self-sufficient batteries (Battery112, Battery 113, and Battery 216) and supporting facilities. Guns included two M1903A2 6-inch shielded guns and four Navy MKIIM1 16-inch casemated guns. Additionally, 37mm weapons and .50-caliber antiaircraft weapon platoons were assigned to protect the Camp from air attack.
After facility closure and property transfers, a portion of the former Camp Hero land was transferred to the Department of the Air Force for an aircraft control and warning station. On January 24, 1951, the former Camp Hero was withdrawn from surplus and designated for use as a firing range and field exercise area for Anti-aircraft Artillery (AAA) units from Fort Totten, NY. Ninety (90) mm and quad .50 caliber antiaircraft artillery began firing exercises from firing positions established in the southern bluff overlooking the Atlantic Ocean.
In 1952, the Air Force property was renamed the Montauk Air Force Station and was occupied by the 773`d Aircraft Control and Warning Squadron (ACWS). Training continued using 90mm and 120mm guns, 3 .5-inch rockets, and .50 caliber guns until 1957. The facility was inactive until October 1958 when the 773 `d ACWS was re-designated as the 773`' Radar Squadron with a new mission to provide surveillance data of air traffic in the area. In order to accomplish this mission, an advanced Specific Frequency Diversity Search Radar was built in late 1960. The facility was closed in 1982. Between 1974 and 1984 all site lands were transferred to state, local, and Federal agencies.
The majority of the former Camp property is under the jurisdiction of the Office of Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation. The Park is mostly undeveloped and is open to the public for recreation-- including bird watching, beach combing, walking/hiking, photography, and seasonal surf fishing.
Previous Investigations, Studies & Actions: The U. S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) has conducted several studies and response actions at the former Camp Hero over the years. There were underground storage tanks and transformers removed, and buildings demolished. Most of this activity took place in the 1993-1995 timeframe.
The New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation (NYS OPRHP) commissioned Cashin Associates to prepare a report entitled: Camp Hero Feasibility Study, Hazardous Materials Survey Preliminary Report (dated June 1998). The report identifies some data gaps and potential outstanding actions, some of which are attributed to the former DoD use of Camp Hero, and will be addressed under the current effort.
In February 2000, USACE issued an Archive Search Report, which described a 1945 training exercise using dilute chemical agents; the chemical agent identification sets (CAIS) referenced are the detonating sets with dilute agent and are therefore not referred to as “chemical warfare materiel (CWM).” The probability of encountering any of this material at the site has been deemed unlikely.
Also, in the year 2000 timeframe, USACE conducted a limited site investigation and completed building demolition work.
A time critical action to address military munitions/ordnance removal at Areas H and the adjacent portions of Area K was completed in August 2003. A follow-up military munitions investigation will be conducted, subject to the availability of funds. Until such investigation is funded and completed, follow the 3Rs of explosives safety: Recognize, Retreat and Report.
Over the period 2016-2018, USACE conducted an extensive site-wide remedial investigation, conforming to the requirements of the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act. Approximately 1,300 soil, sediment, surface water and groundwater samples were collected as part of this investigation, to determine the presence of hazardous and toxic wastes (HTW). The Remedial Investigation Report presented findings of the sampling effort, which support that no further action is necessary at the site. USACE presented a Proposed Plan of “No Further Action” at a public meeting on October 24, 2019, 6 P.M., at the Montauk Public Library.
Based on feedback from the public and stakeholders during the Proposed Plan public meeting, USACE conducted additional investigation (2019-2022) efforts to determine whether there were impacts from Camp Hero to the “deep” groundwater in the Upper Glacial Aquifer (UGA) in the vicinity of residences with private wells screened in the UGA. Most residences on and near Camp Hero are supplied by public water sources (e.g., Suffolk County Water Authority). The results indicated that there is no contamination that represents a health risk or requires further investigation or remediation. The conclusion that No Further Action is necessary has been confirmed. Additional details of the investigation are documented in the Phase IV Remedial Investigation Addendum Report (draft-final).
USACE voluntarily worked with the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) to address a former diesel fuel spill area (near Building 203) in a separate report. USACE removed 2500 cubic yards of affected soils from this location in the 1993-4 timeframe; evidence suggests that natural degradation processes are occurring in the perched groundwater containing low levels of light non-aqueous phase liquids (i.e., LNAPL, fuel components). The spill number has been closed by NYSDEC.