Naval Station Norfolk Marks Construction Completion at Superfund Site

NORFOLK, Virginia, November 1, 2010 (ENS) – The U.S. Navy has completed Superfund cleanup construction at Naval Station Norfolk and Naval Support Activity Norfolk, ending 27 years of investigation and remediation at the world’s largest naval base.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said it considers construction completion to be the most important Superfund milestone because it means that all physical construction of the cleanup remedies are complete, all immediate threats have been addressed and all long-term threats are under control.

This morning a ceremony marking the accomplishment was attended by the U.S. EPA Deputy Administrator Bob Perciasepe; EPA Region III Administrator Shawn Garvin; Asst. Secretary of the Navy Energy, Installations and Environment Jackalyne Pfannenstiel; Virginia Secretary of Natural Resources Doug Domenech; and Director of the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality David Paylor.

“Getting to this point in the cleanup process required a team approach and a close working relationship among the Navy, EPA, and Virginia,” said EPA Mid-Atlantic Regional Administrator Shawn Garvin.

“Not only was assessment and cleanup considered in the process, but over the course of the cleanup, reuse of contaminated land to support the Navy mission was a top priority,” Garvin said.

Aircraft carrier USS Harry Truman departs Naval Station Norfolk, May 21, 2010. (Photo courtesy U.S. Navy)

Overall, the Navy has spent more than $100 million on 170 locations known or suspected to be contaminated throughout the facility.

The Naval Station Norfolk in Virginia’s second Congressional District is located on 4,630 acres directly northwest of the City of Norfolk, Virginia. The facility is bounded by Willoughby Bay to the north, the confluence of the Elizabeth and James Rivers forming Hampton Roads to the west, and the City of Norfolk to the southeast.

Naval Station Norfolk provides shore facilities and logistics support for Navy vessels and aircraft in the United States Fleet Forces Command, those operating in the Atlantic Ocean, Mediterranean Sea, and Indian Ocean. The surrounding land is used for industry.

Wastes generated at Naval Station Norfolk include halogenated and non-halogenated solvents, corrosives, paint wastes, wastes from electroplating operations, petroleum products, and oils and lubricants. In addition, the facility manages used oils, construction debris, PCBs, contaminated oils, and trash.

Groundwater is contaminated with volatile organic compounds such as trichloroethylene, tetrachloroethylene, and dichloroethylenes.

Public drinking water for the city of Norfolk is provided by the city’s municipal surface water supplies. Soil and sediment samples from various sources indicate contamination from metals, volatile organic compounds and semi-VOCs, pesticides, and PCBs.

Persons who accidentally ingest or come in contact with contaminated soil may be at risk, and contaminated groundwater or surface water runoff from the base may reach either the Elizabeth River or Willoughby Bay.

Sampling was conducted in Willoughby Bay in the fall of 2009 to determine if unacceptable levels of contaminants associated with the site existed in sediment. The U.s. EPA says results do not indicate unacceptable ecological risk in Willoughby Bay sediment and no further actions are planned for the Bay.

In 2008 and 2010 in-situ treatment of groundwater was conducted at Site 18 adjacent to the Naval Magazine. Monitoring continues. In 2010 the groundwater treatment system is being optimized by the addition of a groundwater extraction well.

When the cleanup work began, there were locations covered with drums filled with tons of waste. Now, the land is available to support the Navy’s mission.

The Naval Station and Support Activity were added to the Superfund National Priorities List in 1997. Between 1997 and 2010, EPA, the Navy and the Virginia worked together to ensure that the cleanup was consistent with current Superfund and Department of Defense guidance.

A risk assessment was performed for each of the 170 sites and where unacceptable risk to human health or the environment was found, action was taken. The last site on the base requiring cleanup was addressed in August.

In September, EPA’s mid-Atlantic office, which includes Virginia, determined that both installations at this facility, had met the criteria for being added to EPA’s construction completion list.

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