The former Suffolk Co AAF&B&G Range located in Westhampton, New York (NY Congressional District 1) was activated in 1943, during World War II, and used for bombing, strafing, rocket firing, and gunnery training exercises by fighter pilots and instructors from the former Suffolk Air Force Base (AFB) and the former Mitchel Field Army Air Base. The bombing and gunnery ranges consisted of four separate ranges: a bombing range, a strafing range, and two 1,500 by 3,000-foot scoring ranges. Within the range areas, there were 23 strafing targets, 25 bombing targets, 12 target pits, two range houses, and two range towers. Additionally a skeet range was also constructed.
The Bombing and Gunnery Range Complex munitions response site (MRS) consists of four sub ranges: Ground Gunnery/Skip Bombing “A,” Ground Gunnery/Rocket Range “B,” Bombing Range, and Strafing Range. The munitions associated with the MRS are general purpose bombs, practice bombs, rockets, and small arms ammunition.
During field activities which formed the basis of the 2009 Site Inspection (SI) Report, no munitions and explosives of concern (MEC) was observed at the MRS; however, munitions debris (MD) from small arms ammunition, a practice bomb, and practice rockets was found. Analytical results of surface soil sampling for munitions constituents (MC) indicate that antimony, copper, and lead levels exceed ecological screening values. The SI Report notes that in 1946, bombs, practice rockets, and MD from bombs were found at the MRS. Additionally, in 1997 a practice rocket, practice bombs, and small arms ammunition were also discovered at the MRS. Based on the historical findings of MEC and MD, MD observed during SI field activities, and MC findings in surface soil, the 2009 SI Report recommends further investigation of the Bombing & Gunnery Range Complex project area.
The US Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) is conducting work at the site under the Defense Environmental Restoration Program for Formerly Used Defense Sites (DERP-FUDS).
A Remedial Investigation (RI) is in the planning stages. The purpose of this RI is to evaluate whether historical Department of Defense activities at the former Suffolk County AAF BGR MRS have impacted current environmental quality at the site from munitions and explosives of concern (MEC), and if so, to identify what cleanup or remediation is needed to protect human health and the environment. The investigation and remediation process will be conducted in accordance with federal regulations and will be coordinated with the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC). The Investigation will consist of Geophysical Surveys along transects approximately 500 feet apart. Anomalies detected will be further investigated using additional geophysical technology and may be added to a target list for digging and handling by Unexploded Ordnance (UXO) Technicians.
Access through privately and publicly-owned parcels will be requested through a Right-of-Entry form sent to each property owner where the investigation is planning to traverse.
To read a fact sheet on the project click here.
If you find any object that looks like or you believe to be a munitions items, follow the three Rs:
- Recognize the item as potentially hazardous,
- Retreat from the area without touching or moving the item; and immediately
- Report the items to the local police by calling 911.
Project documents will be available for public review in hard copy at the document repository established at:
Westhampton Free Library
7 Library Avenue
Westhampton Beach, NY
If you have any questions, please contact Ms. Julie Rupp, Project Manager, at (978) 318-8962.