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Area UXO 1 - Wharf Area Sediments

Area UXO 1 includes the current and former wharf areas and piers along the shoreline of the Southern Branch of the Elizabeth River, comprising approximately 2,230 linear feet. The northern wharf area (Wharf 3), located in the northeast portion of St. Juliens Creek Annex (SJCA) adjacent to Building M-5 and former Building 190, was constructed in 1917 and historically used for loading Mark VI mines. The wharf was partially demolished in 1933 for fire prevention reasons, and presently only the pilings from the wharf remain. The southern wharf, consisting of Wharf 1 and Wharf 2 located in the southeast portion of SJCA, was initially constructed between 1898 and 1903 and used to aid in ordnance loading. During World War II, the two wharfs were joined together, and an extension, referred to as the dolphin pier/ lighter storage area, was added in order to support the increased production of ordnance for the war. Ordnance-loading activities continued until the early 1970s. Wharf 1 is now considered condemned, largely due to damage caused when it was struck by two vessels in 1975. Wharf 2 is still in use for the occasional mooring of contractor and cable supply ships.

The northern wharf area was previously identified as Site 20 in the Installation Restoration Program. The Initial Assessment Study (IAS) conducted in 1981 concluded that ordnance may have been dropped into the river adjacent to the former wharf area during loading and unloading operations. The assumed ordnance items were not considered a hazard as long as the sediment was not disturbed. The IAS recommended that real estate records be annotated to indicate that unexploded ordnance UXO) may be present. During the Relative Risk Ranking (RRR), a site reconnaissance, magnetometer survey, and sediment sampling were conducted in the Site 20 (northern wharf) area. Approximately 68 contacts were identified in the area surrounding the former wharf pilings; however, the presence of buried ordnance and no visual confirmation of the contacts was made. One volatile organic compound, multiple semivolatile organic compounds, one pesticide, one explosive, and multiple inorganics were detected in the sediment. As part of the Site Screening Assessment (SSA), the analytical results from the sediment samples collected during the RRR were used to conduct human health and ecological risk screenings. No risk was identified to human receptors. Potential ecological risk was identified for benthic organisms in the sediment; however the risk was considered minimal and no further evaluation of ecological risk was recommended. No further action (NFA) was recommended for Site 20 under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act based on the findings of the human health and ecological risk screenings and the fact that potential risk from buried ordnance would be addressed under the Navy’s Range Program. The NFA decision was documented in the SSA.

Based on recommendations made in the SSA, signs were posted in the area to prohibit intrusive activities, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers was notified of the potential presence of buried ordnance. A note was added to the internet Navy Facility Assets Data Store under the SJCA Wharf Property Record cards stating: "Unexploded ordnance may exist along all of the St. Juliens Creek Annex Wharfs." Additionally, real estate map was annotated to indicate the potential presence of UXO.

The Navy’s Range Program was never fully implemented, and ordnance sites are now addressed under the Munitions Response Program (MRP). Because site history indicates a potential presence of ordnance, in 2008 the wharf areas (northern and southern) were identified as Area UXO 1 and included under the MRP. A Preliminary Assessment (PA), consisting of a desktop and archive search on historical site activities, was conducted in 2009. Although no documentation was found to confirm the presence of ordnance in the vicinity of the wharf areas, anecdotal evidence obtained through individual interviews indicated there is a potential for ordnance to have been dropped during loading operations, which may have resulted in the presence of ordnance or ordnance constituents, in the sediment beneath the wharf areas. The PA recommended further investigation in the northern and southern wharf areas; however, no further investigation of the dolphin pier area and removal of that area from the MRP site boundary was recommended because historical records indicated that it was a light storage area and no known ordnance loading occurred from it.

A Site Investigation (SI) was conducted in February 2010 to determine whether there is evidence that the ordnance-loading activities at the wharfs in Area UXO 1 resulted in ordnance being dropped into the Southern Branch of the Elizabeth River. The field activities included bathymetric, side-scan sonar, and digital geophysical mapping (DGM) surveys within the northern and southern wharf areas. The investigation identified geophysical anomalies, representing metallic items, within the sediment of both wharf areas. The SI report stated that the presence of metallic items is evidence that ordnance could potentially be present within the site and recommended an additional investigation to visually inspect the anomaly sources identified during the DGM survey from select locations. The expanded SI (anomaly source investigation) was conducted in July and August 2012. The investigation consisted of acquisition and inspection of metallic debris and collection of sediment samples from 15 locations. The report documenting the results of the expanded SI will be completed in March 2013.

In July and August 2012, an ESI was conducted to determine if a subset of the anomaly sources identified during the DGM survey represented MEC, and to determine whether or not munitions constituents (MC) were present at detectable concentration in site sediment. The ESI consisted of metallic debris acquisition at 15 location using a barge-mounted electromagnet and raking system and the collection of sediment samples from 15 investigation locations. Of the 1,580 pounds of metallic debris recovered, no MEC items were discovered during the investigation.

Sediment sampling at the 15 investigation locations resulted in only one analyte (2,4,6-trinitrotoluene [TNT]) being detected at three locations. Of these three detections, none exceeded the human health risk project action limit (PAL) and only one exceeded the ecological risk PAL. The human health risk screening (HHRS) and ecological risk screening (ERS) concluded that the chemical concentrations detected in the sediment samples did not present unacceptable human health or ecological risks.

The ESI resulted in no MEC being identified at any of the investigation locations, limited detections of chemical concentrations in sediment, and no unacceptable human health or ecological risks. Based on the results of the ESI, no further investigation of anomaly sources or analytical sampling to characterize the nature and extent of contamination or to further evaluate the presence of MEC is warranted for Area UXO 1. Declaration Statement for no further action was signed June 2013.

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