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DEEP commissioner checks out sub base's state-funded boiler upgrade

Groton - Department of Energy and Environmental Protection Commissioner Robert Klee toured the Naval Submarine Base New London Thursday to see where the base's cleanup efforts stand and to get a closer look at the base's new state-funded steam and hot water boiler.

In an effort to upgrade technology, reduce energy costs and protect the environment at the submarine base, the state purchased a $3 million natural gas and ultra-low sulfur diesel boiler for the base. The commissioner's visit marked the start of the boiler's use.

"It's great; we advanced the base from 1960s technology to current technology, so that is just a tremendous leap forward in efficiency," said Bob Ross, executive director of the state's Office of Military Affairs.

The state has spent $11 million of the $40 million that was set aside by the General Assembly in 2007 for submarine base infrastructure improvements. The state is trying to continue to demonstrate to the Navy and the Department of Defense the value of the state's active DOD base to prevent it from being downsized or closed.

The new, state-funded boiler along with another relatively new $3 million Navy-purchased boiler rely on two cooling towers with closed-loop systems that prevent water and energy loss, said Stacey Sangillo, the utility plant manager for the power plant at the submarine base. The old boilers relied on the Thames River for cooling purposes as well as on pumps that were costly.

The two new boilers are 40 percent more efficient than the older boilers, said Chris Zendan, spokesman for the Groton base.

Klee said the upgrades were particularly interesting because they demonstrated how newer technology could be used at college campuses and hospitals.

"These are examples that translate to other large infrastructure areas that save money and protect the environment," Klee said.

The submarine base is also getting closer to being removed from the Environmental Protection Agency's Superfund list. The base expects to have its last and 25th site cleaned up by the end of 2015 and then be removed from the list, Zendan said. The Superfund list represents the nation's most contaminated sites.

The submarine base began its cleanup in 1990 after it was added to the list.

The final site, called Operable Unit 4 on the Lower Submarine Base, includes two areas that are undergoing soil remediation to remove lead-contaminated soil due to maintenance of submarine diesel engines and batteries, and another area between piers 2 and 4 that is being dredged to remove contaminated sediment.

"This is a great example of the state, federal government and military working together," Klee said.

DEEP and EPA staff members provided oversight of the Superfund cleanup efforts as the Navy proposed remediation plans for all 25 sites on the base, Zendan said.

j.somers@theday.com

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