The Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) located in Washington D.C. was officially established on July 2, 1923, as the Naval Experimental and Research Laboratory. NRL occupies approximately 129 acres and is bounded by the Potomac River to the west, Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling to the north, the Navy Bellevue Housing Project and Interstate 295 to the east, and Blue Plains Wastewater Treatment Plant to the south.
For more than 90 years, NRL has served as the research laboratory for the Department of the Navy (Navy) and U.S. Marine Corps (USMC), and has conducted a broad range of scientific, technology, and advanced development research.
Environmental Restoration History
The Navy’s Environmental Restoration activities at NRL began in 1984 with the Initial Assessment Study (IAS). The purpose of the IAS was to identify and assess sites posing a potential threat to human health or the environment due to contamination from past use and disposal of hazardous materials. Between the mid-1990s and the early-2000s, the Navy published a series of reports documenting areas of environmental interest where hazardous materials operations may have resulted in a release to the environment.
From 2003 to 2019, the NRL coordinated its Environmental Restoration activities under a Resource and Conservation Recovery Act (RCRA) Facility Lead Corrective Action Agreement between the Navy and the United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA). Several activities were conducted to gather more information on site conditions, releases, and the extent of contamination, and to identify areas of potential concern. These activities included: a Solid Waste Management Unit (SWMU)/Area of Concern (AOC) Report, a Facility Assessment Report, and a Phase II Facility Assessment Report.
The SWMU/AOC Report identified 129 sites based on a consolidation of the sites of environmental interest previously identified at NRL. The Facility Assessment Report presented the findings and recommendations of investigations conducted to determine whether contaminants were moving in groundwater off the installation and the potential environmental impacts from specific areas of the facility. The Phase II Facility Assessment Report presented the findings and recommendations for seven sites identified in the Facility Assessment Report for further investigation.
In September 2017, USEPA issued a Final Decision and Response to Comments outlining the Final Remedy for 48 SWMUs and 55 AOCs as “Corrective Action Complete without Controls,” meaning that these areas do not require any additional environmental action to be protective of human health and the environment. Five SWMUs were identified for Corrective Action Complete without Controls for soil. An additional four SWMUs were identified for “Corrective Action Complete with Controls,” with only ongoing monitoring and/or maintenance of institutional controls (administrative and legal methods to minimize human exposure to contamination) as the remaining work.
More recently, in July 2019, the Navy entered into a RCRA Corrective Action Permit with USEPA. The Corrective Action Permit outlines the Navy’s responsibilities to investigate and address potential environmental contamination associated with eight SWMUs and six AOCs.