By Linda Cicoira — An Assawoman resident was accused Monday, in U.S. District Court, in Norfolk, of knowingly making false statements or representations about the total concentration of organic nitrogen and ammonia that was being discharged from NASA Wallops Flight Facility (WFF) into local waters.
It was unclear from court documents if defendant Monica Kristine Borowicz, 50, actually worked for NASA or if she was employed by a subcontractor. The incident occurred between April 2014 and March 2018.
NASA made a statement Wednesday saying it “can confirm that Ms. Borowicz is a former contractor employee at Wallops who has not worked on the facility since April 2018. As this is a case pending before the court, additional questions should be directed to the U.S. Attorney’s office.” Later a NASA spokesperson said, “The daily operations of the NASA Wallops Flight Facility’s wastewater treatment plant is supported by the facility’s contractor LJT & Associates.”
In January 2014, LJT, of Columbia, Md., was awarded a contract to perform institutional services at WFF at a maximum of $257 million. “Services LJT & Associates will provide under the contract include facilities planning, engineering, and construction management; facilities operations and maintenance; construction and mission support; grounds maintenance; logistics; occupational medicine; environmental management support; records management; duplication; mail handling; custodial work; and solid waste disposal” among other things, a press release stated. A $200 million contract was awarded to the company for Feb. 1, 2019, through Jan. 31, 2024.
When a reporter called Joseph L. Kosky, the assistant U.S. attorney handling the case, she was referred to Joshua Stueve, director of communications. At press time, the reporter had not hear back from Stueve.
Her job was water programs/analytical lab head. When LJT’s main office was called Wednesday, an operator said Borowicz worked at the Wallops’ office. The Post was unable to contact Borowicz. Her attorney did not return a reporter’s query.
The charge against Borowicz involves “monthly discharge monitoring reports submitted to the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ)” that showed “false test results for Total Kjeldahl Nitrogen (TKN) levels,” court records stated. The reports are required in accordance with the Clean Water Act.
“According to an environmental resources document issued by NASA in August 2017, WFF was issued a Virginia Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permit, which authorizes potential or actual discharge of pollutants from a point source to surface waters under prescribed conditions and limitations, by the DEQ on Aug. 17, 1989, with the most recent renewal date being Oct. 1, 2014, which expires Sept. 30, 2019 … the permit applies to 11 industrial stormwater outfalls on the Main Base including the Federally Owned Treatment Works process outfall and three industrial stormwater outfalls on Wallops Island, including the deluge water storage pond at Launch Pad 0-A. Currently, there are no permitted stormwater outfalls on the mainland. Four non-industrial stormwater outfalls are located on the Wallops Main Base and five non-industrial stormwater outfalls are located on Wallops Island … In accordance with its VPDES permit, WFF has prepared and routinely updates a Storm Water Pollution Prevention Plan … Through the use of best management practices, quarterly and annual inspections, and personnel training, WFF remains proactive in stormwater pollution prevention.”
Discharges are made to Little Mosquito Creek and Hog Creek, according to the document.
A DEQ operator referred a reporter to DEQ’s Allan Brockenbrough. He would not comment about the case but said he would find someone at the agency to do so. A spokesperson later left a message stating, “We participated in that investigation but were not the lead.” She referred questions to Stueve.
The charge was made through criminal information, not an indictment. Property derived from proceeds traceable to the violation could be seized through forfeiture if there’s a conviction. The case was assigned to District Judge Raymond A. Jackson and referred to Magistrate Judge Douglas E. Miller.
“I’m very disappointed that this has happened,” Accomack Supervisor Grayson Chesser said Wednesday. “I really don’t know enough about it to say any more at this time but I’m sure it will be discussed in the groundwater committee meeting. The fact that this falls on the heels of the contamination of the Chincoteague wells makes it even more disturbing.”
Chesser is a member of the groundwater committee. He was referring to Chincoteague wells on NASA’s base on Wallops Island that were found in April 2017 to be contaminated with high levels of PFAS (per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances) from fire retardants sprayed by NASA’s fire department. Since then, Chincoteague officials bought property on the mainland where they are planning to dig new wells. They are waiting for NASA to give them financial assistance.
The Federally Owned Treatment Works at WFF “receives processed sanitary wastes,” according to the WFF environmental report. “Little Mosquito Creek drains airfield runways, taxiways, aprons, and a hangar; satellite accumulation areas; above-ground fuel storage tanks; office buildings; roadways, parking areas, and grassy areas. This outfall discharges to Little Mosquito Creek. Potential sources of pollution include fuel spills from airfield activities or releases from fuel delivery vehicles or hazardous waste spills from a satellite accumulation area. A chance of stormwater contamination from hazardous wastes exists; however, all satellite accumulation areas are required to have secondary containment and are located inside covered structures. This outfall drains approximately 204.6 acres and its weighted runoff coefficient is low at 0.39.
“During a 24-hour, 2-year storm event, approximately 8.03 million gallons per day would discharge from this outfall. Little Mosquito Creek Drain orbital launch facilities, small launch facilities, office buildings, fuel storage tanks, RP-1 storage, roadways, parking areas, and grassy areas. Drainage involves retention basins with sluice gates and tidal flaps that drain to Hog Creek. Potential sources of pollution include orbital launch operations and fuel spills from delivery vehicles. To minimize the risk of stormwater pollution, all orbital launch vehicle fueling is performed by highly trained personnel during closely controlled conditions. Also, all launchpad wash waters are tested prior to discharge. All tank fueling operations are performed by trained personnel. Additionally, spill kits are readily available. These outfalls drain approximately 27.9 acres and 22.5 acres, respectively. Weighted runoff coefficients are low at 0.23 and 0.17.”