The U.S. Navy is inviting comments on its proposed remedial action plan for Nomans. The action proposed is to do nothing further to clean up the pollution and unexploded ordnance remaining on the island, which the Navy used as a base and aircraft gun and bombing range from 1943 to 1996.

Way back in February 2000 the Navy was arguing that it would not be able to do remediation work requested by the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection because of the existence of an endangered plant species on the island. The Navy bombed and strafed Nomans for 53 years without showing concern for anything living there. Their sudden concern for an endangered plant was an obvious ploy to get out of its responsibility to clean up its mess.

Now, 20 years later, the same attitude is evident. The Navy is claiming that any cleanup efforts beyond what they have been forced to do by MassDEP would cause harm to the environment. Again, where was the Navy’s concern for the environment when they were bombing Nomans?

In 1998 the Navy transferred Nomans to another federal agency — the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service — which in turn designated the island a wildlife refuge, closed to the public. This and posting No Trespassing signs was also an evasion by the Navy of its responsibility to clean up its mess. A piece of land where it is unsafe for anyone to set foot is obviously not remediated. Nomans was more or less designated a national sacrifice zone.

The remedial action plan is a whitewash and a disgrace, both for the Navy, and the regulators at MassDEP who have facilitated and approved it.

Richard Hugus