Superfund Information Systems: Site Profile

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The Abex Corporation Site is located in the eastern section of the City of Portsmouth, Virginia.  The Abex Corporation/Railroad Products Group operated a brass and bronze foundry from 1928 to 1978. The former foundry area was comprised of five buildings and a former sand disposal area.  Soil contamination was found in a number of adjacent or nearby properties including the Washington Park housing complex, the Effingham Playground, the Seventh Street row of homes (adjacent to the foundry) and a two square block area southwest of the foundry known as the Effingham Residential area.  In 1990, the EPA added the site to the National Priorities List of most hazardous waste sites in the country, making the site eligible for federal cleanup.

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What Has Been Done to Clean Up the Site?

  • In 1983, a Preliminary Assessment (PA) Report was conducted by the EPA.
  • In August 1986, under a Consent Order by the EPA, a number of early cleanup steps were undertaken by Abex, including excavation of contaminated soil from residential areas surrounding the Abex lot and paving and fencing the foundry area.
  • In February 1992, a Remedial Investigation/Feasibility Study (RI/FS) Report found that lead contaminated surface soil exceeding 500 mg/kg within the Effingham residential area and at a few additional locations in Washington Park and the Effingham Playground presented a short term threat.
  • EPA issued a Unilateral Administrative Order (UAO) in March 1992 that required Abex to remove the lead contaminated soil.
  • In May 1997, Abex demolished the foundry buildings and the five Seventh Street row homes. During the demolition of the foundry buildings, some residents in Washington Park and some home owners were temporarily relocated.
  • In January 1999, Abex began major soil excavation work throughout an area generally within 700 feet of the foundry. This cleanup is referred to as Operable Unit (OU) 1. Work on OU1 was completed in March 2000.
  • From July 1999 to approximately February 2000, EPA conducted an emergency removal to clean lead contaminated dust from heating ducts and furnaces in each apartment at Washington Park.
  • In 2001, a new phase of the cleanup, called OU2, was initiated to determine how far contamination from the former Abex foundry had spread.
  • In 2007, Abex removed the temporary soil storage and treatment pad (SSTP) and the area was restored.
  • Several portions of the remediated area of OU1 have been redeveloped for reuse under the sponsorship of the Portsmouth Redevelopment and Housing Authority (PRHA), with oversight by the EPA and the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (VADEQ).
  • In September 2009, EPA declared the construction associated with the OU1 remedy complete.

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What Is the Current Site Status?

EPA has conducted several Five-Year Reviews of the site’s remedy. These reviews ensure that the remedies put in place protect public health and the environment, and function as intended by site decision documents. The fourth Five-Year Review (PDF) (64 pp, 10.6 MB, About PDF) for Operable Unit 1 (OU1), comprising of contaminated soil within 700-ft of foundry was completed in May 2017. This review concluded that the remedy in place is protective of human health and the environment.

EPA approved a Remedial Investigation and Feasibility Study (RI/FS) work plan in April 2015 for Operable Unit (OU) 2 which includes contaminated soils outside of the OU1 area plus all other environmental media (groundwater, surface water sediments, ecological risk, etc.). EPA expects the Remedial Investigation (RI) to be completed in 2018.

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Enforcement Information

04/14/2005: DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE Notice of Lodging of Consent Decree Pursuant to the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act

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