Naval Weapons Station Yorktown

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Naval Weapons Station (WPNSTA) Yorktown is a 10,624-acre installation located on the Virginia Peninsula in York and James City Counties and the City of Newport News. WPNSTA Yorktown is bounded on the northwest by Cheatham Annex (CAX) and the Virginia Emergency Fuel Farm, on the northeast by the York River and the Colonial National Historic Parkway, on the southwest by Route 143 and Interstate 64, and on the southeast by Route 238 and the town of Lackey. Originally named the U.S. Mine Depot, WPNSTA Yorktown was established in 1918 to support mine laying in the North Sea during World War I. For 20 years after World War I, the depot received reclaimed, stored, and issued mines, depth charges, and related materials. During World War II, the facility was expanded to include three additional trinitrotoluene (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 the U.S. Naval Weapons Station. Today, the primary mission of WPNSTA Yorktown is to provide ordnance, technical support, and related services to sustain the war-fighting capability of the Armed Forces in support of national military strategy.

Regulatory History

Comprehensive environmental restoration activities at WPNSTA 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 WPNSTA 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 WPNSTA 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. Although Site 31 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 WPNSTA Yorktown Partnering Team to implement CERCLA.

Environmental Restoration History

WPNSTA Yorktown

WPNSTA Yorktown was included on the National Priorities List (NPL) on October 15, 1992. As part of the FFA development and by mutual consent of the Navy and the USEPA, several Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) Solid Waste Management Units (SWMUs) at WPNSTA were initially included for investigation and evaluation. Fifteen former SWMUs, two areas identified in the Environmental Photographic Interpretation Center (EPIC) study, one Area of Concern (AOC), and one former Installation Restoration Program (IRP) site were listed in Appendix A of the FFA as SSAs in need of further investigation. In addition to these 19 SSAs listed in the FFA, 5 additional SSAs were added for investigation and evaluation, for a total of 24. Based on the results of the site screening process (SSP), to date, eight SSAs at WPNSTA have been retained as IRP sites for additional Remedial Investigation/Feasibility Study (RI/FS) efforts. Scheduled and completed activities for the 25 sites and 16 SSAs at WPNSTA are presented in this SMP. Figure 1-2 depicts the location of each site and SSA at WPNSTA.

A Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA) remedial action is often divided into Operable Units (OUs). As defined by the National Oil and Hazardous Substance Contingency Plan (NCP), an OU is a discrete action that comprises an incremental step toward comprehensively addressing site problems. This discrete portion of a remedial response may manage migration, eliminate a release, or may mitigate a release, threat of release, or pathway of exposure. OUs can address geographical portions of a site or specific site problems or may consist of any set of actions over time or that are concurrent but located in different parts of a site. At WPNSTA Yorktown, sites are designated as OUs when investigative activities are completed. Assigning sites to OUs aids in the selection of remedial action alternatives and serves accounting purposes for multiple IRP site Records of Decision (RODs) produced for WPNSTA Yorktown. Separate from the OUs, the Yorktown Partnering Team developed groundwater operable units (GWOUs) to determine a discrete portion of a remedial response to mitigate a release, threat of release, or pathway of exposure to groundwater. GWOUs have been established for each site and SSA at WPNSTA.

Regulatory Framework and CERCLA Process Activities

CERCLA and the Superfund Amendments and Reauthorization Act of 1986 (SARA) established programs for the cleanup of hazardous waste disposal and spill sites. The IRP is a  component of the Defense Environmental Restoration Program (DERP) which is one of the programs established under CERCLA/SARA by the DON. The USEPA and Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (VDEQ) have been actively involved in the IRP at WPNSTA Yorktown and CAX.

The investigations and remedial activities to be completed at WPNSTA Yorktown and CAX will follow the guidelines established by the USEPA as part of the CERCLA process. Once an area has been identified as potentially containing contaminated media (soil, groundwater, sediment, and surface water) and the site screening investigation and risk screening process (both limited in scope) have determined that a potential risk to human health and/or the environment exists, the site will be subjected to the RI/FS process. However, a removal action and/or an interim remedial action may also be appropriate. The decision to implement one or a combination of these actions at established RI/FS sites is dependent upon the nature and extent of contamination at the site; how well the site is characterized; the degree of associated human health and/or environmental risks; and the complexity of the potential remedial actions (i.e., the feasibility of the optimal remedy). The CERCLA processes are described below and depicted in the IR Program section of this website.

Site Management Plan

An annual Site Management Plan (SMP) is written to provide a management tool for NAVFAC Mid-Atlantic, WPNSTA Yorktown, VDEQ, USEPA, and their consultants to use in planning, reviewing, and setting priorities for all response activities to be conducted at WPNSTA Yorktown. The SMP establishes schedules and conceptual approaches for continued CERCLA activities at WPNSTA Yorktown Environmental Restoration (ER) sites. The prioritization of activities, proposed schedules, and work descriptions were jointly developed by the Department of the Navy (Navy), USEPA, and VDEQ on the basis of goals agreed to by all parties. The latest SMP for WPNSTA Yorktown can be accessed here.


1322 Patterson Ave. SE, Suite 1000, Washington Navy Yard, D.C. 20374-5065

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