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Hazardous Waste Cleanup: Virginia Emergency Fuel Storage Facility in Yorktown, Virginia

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Between 1991 and 1992, the news media criticized the Virginia Department of Waste Management for mis-managing the Facility, ignoring the contamination from fuel spills, and violation of environmental laws the agency was supposed to enforce. In July 1991, EPA conducted a multi-media team inspection of the Facility to investigate the accusations. As a result of the inspection, EPA convinced Virginia to enter into an Inter-Agency Cleanup Agreement in April 1992, which enables EPA to oversee the cleanup investigation.

Cleanup Status

Pursuant to the Inter-Agency Cleanup Agreement, Virginia Department of Emergency Services has completed delineation of the site contamination and clean out of all 23 two-million-gallon tanks to eliminate the primary source of release. Five discrete groundwater plumes contaminated with petroleum hydrocarbons were identified at the site. Hipps Pond and portions of two influent ravines were found to be heavily contaminated with petroleum hydrocarbons in the sediments, though the surface water was only slightly contaminated through many years of natural flushing. A final remedy was selected in 1997 that included the following components: (1) Structural upgrade of the pond outlet dam to prevent catastrophic release of contaminated sediments to downstream sensitive wetlands; (2) Remediation of a sludge pit and a cosmoline dump by excavation and removal; (3) Institutional controls to prevent public access to the contaminated portion of the facility by installing fencing and warning signs; and (4) Providing long-term monitoring data to EPA to demonstrate the progress of natural attenuation. The Final Decision was issued in 1997 and by August 2002, all remedy construction work has been completed. There is recent interest in economic development of the contaminated portion of the land which is described below under Community Interaction section.

In October 2003, Virginia informed EPA that it has leased the facility to York County which has delineated a portion of the site to develop into a public golf course. Virginia indicated that because of the proposed land use change, it will work with York County and the developer to formulate an institutional controls plan for EPA approval prior to start work. The golf course project has not been progressing due to inability of the developer to obtain irrigation water source from the neighboring defense facility. On September 27, 2007, a phone conference was held among EPA, Virginia and the developer to discuss proposal to utilize the pond water for irrigation purposes. The developer proposes to divert the dam outfall water to existing underground storage tanks for storage. EPA has conceptually agreed with the proposal awaiting the detailed plan for review.

In 2007 sampling, three of five Study Areas have met remediation standards (drinking water standards) for benzene, toluene, ehtylbenzene, xylenes, naphthalene and arsenic since monitoring began in 1996. In 2008, two of five Study Areas have attained groundwater remediation standards.

Cleanup Background

Around 2007, York County and the Commonwealth of Virginia have entered into a three-way lease agreement with a developer to construct a golf course at the site. EPA is supportive of the golf course development provided that the development shall be proceeded with EPA oversight to ensure that existing site contamination will not negatively impact human health or the environment. Special attention shall be given to existing contaminated pond sediments to prevent their disturbance and release to downstream sensitive wetlands.

The development of the golf course has been delayed by securing irrigation water. The latest proposal was to divert the flow from below the dam to existing underground bulk storage tanks for storage of irrigation water. The proposed withdrawal will not disturb the pond sediments, but the developer must obtain water withdrawal permit from the Virginia Department of Quality (VADEQ). In 2008, VADEQ issued an Environmental Impart Report on the proposed water withdrawal.

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Site Description

Interactive Map of Virginia Emergency Fuel Storage Facility, Yorktown, VA

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This 460-acre state-owned facility has been abandoned since 1982. The site is located within a few miles of popular tourist attractions (Colonial Williamsburg National Historic Park, Jamestown Settlement and Busch Gardens ) in and around Williamsburg, Virginia. Recognizing the value of this large piece of land, York County is interested in turning the abandoned land into productive use.

The Virginia Emergency Fuel Storage Facility, York County, Virginia, was formerly owned by the Navy and was a part of the Navy's Cheatham Annex. The 460-acre Facility contains 23 two-million-gallon underground tanks and several miles of underground fuel lines. Between 1973 and early 1980s, the Virginia Department Of Emergency Services (VDES) leased the Facility from the Navy to store fuels during the energy crisis.

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Contaminants at this Facility

The contaminants of concern are typical petroleum constituents: benzene, toluene xylenes and ethylbenzene in groundwater, and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons in soil and sediments. The groundwater plumes are confined onsite and there is no current usage of the site groundwater. The sediments in two ravines and a pond at the facility are heavily contaminated with petroleum hydrocarbons and the aquatic habitat onsite has been impacted. However, ecological survey has not shown any evidence of offsite impact. Monitoring data of the pond discharge show that it has met state discharge permit limits. As a component of the remedy, the pond outlet dam will be structurally upgraded to permanently contain the contaminated sediments.

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Institutional and Engineering Controls at this Facility

The corrective action final decision in 1997 included:

(1) Structural upgrade of the pond outlet dam to prevent catastrophic release of contaminated sediments to downstream sensitive wetlands
(2) Remediation of a sludge pit and a Cosmoline dump by excavation and removal
(3) Institutional controls to prevent public access to the contaminated portion of the facility by installing fencing, warning signs, and the requirement to enact deed restrictions for the northern portion of the facility to limit land use, ground water withdrawal, excavation and activities that may endanger human health.
(4) Long-term groundwater monitoring data to EPA to demonstrate the progress of natural attenuation
(5) Securing man-made structures (tanks, valve pits, manways and Oil Water Separator)

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Land Reuse Information at this Facility

The site is being reused.

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Site Responsibility at this Facility

Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) Corrective Action activities at this facility are being conducted under the direction of the EPA Region 3 with assistance from the VADEQ.

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