Naval Weapons Station (NWS) Yorktown is a 8,881-acre installation located on the Virginia Peninsula in York and James City Counties, Virginia, and is bounded on the northwest by NWS Yorktown Cheatham Annex and on the northeast by the York River. Originally named the Navy Mine Depot, NWS Yorktown was established in 1918 to support the laying of mines in the North Sea during World War I. For 20 years after World War I, the depot continued to receive, reclaim, store, and issue mines, depth charges, and related materials. During World War II, the facility was expanded to include three TNT (TNT) loading plants and new torpedo overhaul facilities. A research and development laboratory for experimentation with high explosives was established in 1944. In 1947, a quality evaluation laboratory was developed to monitor special tasks assigned to the facility which included the design and development of depth charges and advanced underwater weapons. On August 7, 1959, the depot was renamed Naval Weapons Station Yorktown. Today, the primary mission of NWS Yorktown is to provide responsive, quality support for explosive ordnance storage, maintenance, logistics, and support services; expeditionary logistics training and operations; warfare training for Sailors, Marines, and other Services; and to serve as a premier recreational destination for servicemembers and dependents.
Comprehensive environmental restoration activities at NWS Yorktown began in 1984 under the Navy Assessment and Control of Installation Pollutants (NACIP) and Environmental Restoration Program (ERP), whose purpose was to identify, assess, characterize, and clean up or control contamination from past waste management activities. The NACIP program was modified into the Environmental Restoration Program (ERP) in 1986 to reflect the requirements of the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA) as amended by the Superfund Amendments and Reauthorization Act (SARA).
In 1992 NWS Yorktown was added to the Environmental Protection Agency’s National Priorities List based on a Hazard Ranking Score of 50, and within two years a Federal Facilities Agreement (FFA) between the Navy and the USEPA was signed. The FFA incorporated the applicability of the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) Solid Waste Management Units (SWMUs) at NWS Yorktown.
Assessment under the Navy and EPA’s FFA Findings of Fact identified 16 Sites for Remedial Investigation (RI), 19 Site Screening Areas (SSAs) for the Site Screening Process (SSP), and 21 Areas of Concern (AOCs) for desktop audits under CERCLA to determine if the AOCs warranted further consideration. Based on the results of the Site Screening Process, 8 of the 19 SSAs were determined to warrant Remedial Investigation/ Feasibility Study (RI/FS) efforts under CERCLA. Also as a result of the Site Screening Process, the Navy, in partnership with USEPA and VDEQ, agreed in 1997 that no action was warranted for all AOCs with the exception of three which were associated with an SSA.
In 2007 the Navy initiated investigation of numerous Munitions Response Program (MRP) Sites including the Morale, Welfare, and Recreation (MWR) Skeet Range. Also in this year, one additional AOC (AOC 23, currently Site 31) was identified; this AOC has since been elevated to a Site for Remedial Investigation. Also subsequent to the FFA, 6 additional SSAs were identified for consideration in CERCLA, with Sites 33 and 34 being identified as areas requiring Remedial Investigations. Although Sites 31, 33, and 34 and the MWR Skeet Range were not included in the FFA, investigations at these sites have been or will be conducted following CERCLA guidance.
The Navy is committed to cleaning up sites that pose a threat to human health or the environment and implementing environmental stewardship practices that ensures Navy waste management operations are in compliance with all federal and state regulations and Navy policy. Since January 1997 the Navy has been working in partnership with USEPA and VDEQ and has established a formal NWS Yorktown Partnering Team to implement CERCLA.