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Discontent over H1 plan

A Navy spokesman found out last week that "I don't know" is not an acceptable answer when the question involves restoration of historic Hangar One.

At a meeting of the Moffett Field Restoration Advisory Board, Darren Newton drew the ire of several members who wanted to know if the Navy was in talks with NASA Ames about how the hangar's siding would be removed and new material applied.

When Newton was asked whether discussions between the Navy and NASA about recovering the hangar were actually happening, his "I don't know" response was not well-received by several members of advisory board.

"The Navy has an obligation to make sure you have the answers," local pilot Steve Williams said to Newton. "'I don't know' is not an acceptable answer to any of the questions here."

Kevin Woodhouse, representing the City of Mountain View, reported that NASA Ames was in discussions with the Navy to ensure that the agency will be able to quickly replace the siding on the hangar (the Navy is required by law to remove Hangar One's toxic siding, and NASA now wants to restore the massive structure). But Newton would not confirm this.

Preservationists are skeptical because the Navy has said that it wants to simply leave the hangar's uncovered frame behind, which some say could be detrimental to the historic structure.

"If the Navy removes the siding and runs like hell, that will be unacceptable," said Bob Moss, the civilian co-chair of the RAB. Moss said he would seek an "act of congress" to keep that from happening.

Lenny Siegel, director of the Center for Public Environmental Oversight, and a member of the RAB, said he hoped the discussions between NASA Ames and the Navy were actually happening and expressed concern about the "failure of them to be transparent."

"We don't want to disrupt the process, but we don't want to wait around for something bad to happen either," Siegel said.

Forest could help clean toxics

In an effort to pull toxic chemicals from the groundwater at Moffett Field, the Navy has hired a contractor who wants to plant a small forest of up to 100 trees next to Hangar Three.

Dan Lay of Shaw Environmental presented the plan, which would create a small orchard-like grouping of trees at "Site 26," which has a plume of chlorinated ethenes 6 feet below the surface.

The tree roots would pull up the contaminated water and break down the chemicals naturally, Lay said. The trees won't do the whole job, however. Lay said a substrate called EHC would be injected into the ground to help break down the toxic chemicals first.

Orion housing being torn down

The Army has begun demolishing dozens of vacant apartment buildings just outside the main gate at Moffett Field to make way for a reserve training and command center.

The northern 60 percent of the 147-unit Orion Park apartment complex will be torn down, a NASA employee said at Thursday's RAB meeting. The remaining 40 percent will remain until further plans are made.

The center will serve hundreds of reservists from around the state, especially on weekends. Local military housing has begun to fill up with new active duty Army personnel.

The Army is expected to break ground for the new training center in 2009. Planning for the project is in its final stage.

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