Norfolk Naval Shipyard

Environmental Restoration Program Public Website

This web site is part of the Navy's active efforts to provide accurate, timely and comprehensive information on the Environmental Restoration Program (ERP) currently in action at the Norfolk Naval Shipyard (NNSY) located in Portsmouth, VA. The ERP sites are managed by the Navy as the lead agency in accordance with the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA). Regulatory support for the ERP AT NNSY is provided to the Navy by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) Region III, and the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (VDEQ). A “partnering team”, consisting of representatives from the Navy, USEPA, and VDEQ, work collectively on the NNSY ERP sites.

A total of 218 potentially contaminated sites, areas, or solid waste management units (SWMUs) at NNSY were identified for evaluation during early assessments of environmental concerns. Due to the inconsistent numbering and nomenclature of the 218 units, a correlation was developed to group these units into distinct and individual areas of potential contamination that were actually identified for evaluation. This correlation showed that there were a total of 163 potentially contaminated areas at NNSY. In 1999 and 2000 the partnering team, consisting of Naval Facilities Engineering Command, Mid-Atlantic (NAVFAC MIDLANT), NNSY, USEPA Region III, and VDEQ evaluated many of these potentially contaminated areas by conducting site visits and reviewing historical records, operational procedures, and aerial photographs. As a result, 154 of these areas were identified as requiring no further action (NFA) under CERCLA and were designated as such in the NNSY Federal Facilities Agreement (FFA) in 2004.


NNSY is located in Portsmouth, Virginia, on the Southern Branch of the Elizabeth River, approximately 15 miles from the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay. NNSY is the oldest continuously operated shipyard in the United States, with origins dating back to 1767 when it was a merchant shipyard under British rule and was called the Gosport Shipyard. With the outbreak of the American Revolution in 1775, the Shipyard was confiscated by the Commonwealth of Virginia. In 1801, the Shipyard was purchased by the federal government.

Until the beginning of the Civil War, shipbuilding and repair facilities at the Shipyard were gradually expanded. Federal authorities burned the Shipyard when war was imminent in 1861. It was taken over by the Confederacy and burned twice more during the Civil War. Following the Civil War, the Shipyard was rebuilt and activities of repair, service, and construction of ships continued. During the First and Second World Wars, the Shipyard was greatly expanded and modernized.

After World War II, NNSY became primarily an overhaul and repair facility, and has remained such to this day. NNSY’s primary mission is to repair, overhaul, dry-dock, convert, modernize, and inactivate ships, and to provide logistics services in support of the fleet.

The official mission assigned to this shipyard by the Secretary of the Navy is:

  • Provide logistic support for assigned ships and service craft

  • Perform authorized work in connection with construction, conversion, overhaul, repair, alteration, dry-docking, and outfitting of ships and craft, as assigned

  • Perform manufacturing, research, development, and test work, as assigned

  • Provide services and material to other activities and units, as directed by competent authority


The present NNSY and the nearby Navy-owned noncontiguous areas comprise the following elements:

  • Main Shipyard – 533 acres of waterfront ship repair facilities (dry docks, wet slips, berths, and so forth), a Controlled Industrial Area, Public Works, administration and supply facilities, housing, medical facilities, and personnel and community support services

  • Southgate Annex – 63 acres used primarily for storage

  • Scott Center Annex – 63-acre recreational complex for NNSY personnel; the former Scott Center Landfill was remediated in 2005 with the removal of waste and the creation of sustainable tidal wetlands

  • Paradise Creek Disposal Area – 91-acre hydraulic fill area formerly used for landfilling, solid waste disposal, and petroleum reclamation (storage of petroleum products and the maintenance and storage of waste-handling vehicles and equipment)

  • New Gosport – 57-acre former military housing area for married enlisted personnel; an area immediately to the north is the former New Gosport Landfill, which was remediated in 2001 with the removal of waste and the creation of sustainable tidal wetlands

Environmental History

In 1975, the Department of Defense began the Navy Assessment and Control of Navy Pollutants (NACIP) Program to assess past hazardous and toxic materials storage and disposal activities at military installations. NNSY initiated its environmental restoration, study, and investigation efforts under the NACIP Program by conducting an Initial Assessment Study (IAS) that was completed in 1983. The purpose of the IAS was to identify and assess posting a potential threat to human health or the environment from past hazardous materials operations.

In 1976, the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) was passed by Congress to address potentially adverse human health and environmental impacts from hazardous waste management and disposal practices. In order to evaluate hazardous wastes or hazardous constituents and to implement corrective actions, as necessary under the authorities of RCRA, a RCRA Facility Assessment (RFA) was conducted at NNSY in 1986. A supplemental RFA was conducted in 1987.

The Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA), or the "Superfund" Act, was passed to investigate and remediate areas resulting from past hazardous waste management practices. The NACIP program was changed in 1986 to reflect the requirements of the CERCLA as amended by the Superfund Amendments and Reauthorization Act (SARA). In response to SARA, the installation restoration program (IRP) was established to address releases of hazardous substances, pollutants, and contaminants on installations and former properties resulting from past practices that may pose risks to human health and the environment. The IRP is currently addressed under the Environmental Restoratation Program (ERP).

Based on the results of a Hazard Ranking System (HRS) evaluation, NNSY was listed on the USEPA National Priorities List (NPL) in July 1999.

A Federal Facility Agreement (FFA), negotiated between the Navy, USEPA, and VDEQ, was signed in September 2004. Under the FFA, all past and future work at ERP Sites, SWMUs, and AOCs will be reviewed and a course of action for future work requirements at each site will be developed.

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