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EPA - U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

07/28/2020 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 07/28/2020 08:33

EPA Administrator Wheeler Touts Superfund Accomplishments after 40 years

07/28/2020

PHILADELPHIA (July 28, 2020) - U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Andrew Wheeler today commended the cleanup work that's been done at the Atlantic Wood Industries, Inc., site in Portsmouth, Virginia, and the Nansemond Ordnance Depot site in Suffolk, Virginia, as outstanding examples of cleanups, restoration and land reuse.

'As we celebrate EPA's 50th Anniversary, we are proud to showcase the Superfund clean-up efforts in Atlantic Wood Industries and Nansemond Ordnance Depot in Virginia,' said Wheeler. 'We remain committed to turning these spaces into economic and recreational assets for generations to come.'

The Comprehensive Environmental Response Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA), commonly referred as Superfund, was passed in 1980 to address the nation's most contaminated hazardous waste sites. For 40 years, the Superfund program has cleaned up the nation's most contaminated land, tackling threats to public health and the environment, supporting local economies, and enhancing quality of life.

'By engaging our partners and communities through sound science, we've achieved the greatest record of Superfund success in decades; restoring these contaminated properties and returning them to community assets,' said EPA Mid-Atlantic Regional Administrator Cosmo Servidio.

The Atlantic Wood site, located on the Southern Branch of the Elizabeth River and immediately north of the Norfolk Naval Shipyard's Southgate Annex, was the former location of a wood treating facility and includes approximately 50 acres of land and more than 30 acres of river sediments.

Since 2010, EPA has been performing the cleanup at the site to remediate hazardous substances, including polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons from creosote, pentachlorophenol, and associated dioxin, as well as heavy metals present in soils, ground water and sediments at the site.

EPA is currently taking actions at the site, intended to protect human health and the environment far into the future after the completion of the clean-up. The-approved plan for the cleanup of contaminated soils, river sediments and groundwater at the site includes: construction of an offshore sheet pile wall; dredging with consolidation and capping of contaminated sediments behind the wall and at the west portion of the site; excavation or on-site treatment of contaminated soils; monitoring natural attenuation of ground water and natural recovery of contaminated sediments; operation and maintenance of the remedy; and land-use controls.

Currently, EPA is completing landfill construction and capping the Atlantic Wood property and an adjacent property owned by the Portsmouth Port and Industrial Commission.

'EPA has brought significant resources and expertise to complex sites like Portsmouth and others throughout Virginia,' said Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (VADEQ) Director David K. Paylor. 'DEQ and EPA will continue to work hard to ensure that Virginians have waters and lands that are safe and sustainable for decades to come.'

'Cancer has come down dramatically in indicator fish like the mummichog, thanks to EPA's perseverance and commitment to return health to our home river,' said Marjorie Mayfield Jackson, Executive Director, Elizabeth River Project, about the Atlantic Wood site.

The former Nansemond Ordnance Depot is a 975-acre site in Suffolk, Virginia. It is located at the confluence of the Nansemond and James Rivers, at the heart of Hampton Roads. The Army used the site from 1917 to 1960 to manage and dispose of munitions.

After 1960, multiple private property transfers occurred. The Tidewater Community College has operated on the former Depot since 1968. In the 1980s, the explosive TNT was found on campus, and shoreline erosion began exposing munition disposal pits and munitions along the shoreline. To date, the United States Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) as lead agency in partnership with EPA Region III and VDEQ have investigated hundreds of acres and removed 6,200 munitions items and 200,000 lbs of munitions debris, to prepare the site for safe beneficial reuse.

Today there are more than 100 different landowners on the property, safely supporting residential, commercial, industrial, and public uses.

In line with EPA's 50th Anniversary theme for July, 'Cleaning Up the Nation's Land,' the EPA's Mid-Atlantic Region has highlighted both Atlantic Wood Industries and former Nansemond Ordnance Depot Superfund sites as prime examples of how EPA works together with state, local, tribal and private stakeholders to clean hazardous waste sites that lead to economic investments and positive environmental outcomes.

Read the full FY19 Superfund Accomplishments report here: https://semspub.epa.gov/src/document/HQ/100002479

Additional information about EPA's Superfund program can be found at https://www.epa.gov/superfund