YORK COUNTY, VA
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The Chisman Creek site, located in York County, Virginia is a 27-acre site consisting of four former sand and gravel pits in which an estimated over 500,000 tons of fly ash from the Yorktown Power Generating Station was disposed from 1957 to 1974. The fly ash was removed from one of the pits and placed in another pit in the 1970s. In the early 1980s, the Virginia State Board of Health, the Virginia State Water Control Board, and the Virginia Institute of Marine Science sampled residential wells and the surface water in the area of the pits in response to a homeowner reporting discolored well water. These investigations found heavy metal contamination in Chisman Creek and in the groundwater in and near the fly ash disposal areas. This site was proposed to the National Priorities List on December 30, 1982 and formally added to the list on September 8, 1983.
What Is the Current Site Status?
Because hazardous substances and materials are left in place at the site, EPA will conduct a review at least every five years to make sure the site remains protective of human health and the environment. In December 2011, EPA completed the fourth five-year review of the site. As a result of the review, EPA determined that the remedy for the site is protective in the short term. The remedial action for Operable Unit 2 (OU2), which addresses surface waters, was found to be protective; but the extent of the vanadium contaminant plume in the shallow aquifer, which is associated with Operable Unit 1 (OU1), is presently unknown. EPA is presently working with Virginia Power to determine the extent of the vanadium contamination. A more permanent restriction must be put into place by Virginia Power to ensure long-term protectiveness once the extent of vanadium contamination is known.
After three rounds of sampling the ground water in the vicinity of Area C, EPA believes only one more round of sampling will be necessary to completely define the extent of the vanadium contamination. That last round of sampling has taken place. EPA is presently waiting for an analysis of alternatives from Virginia Power which will assist EPA to select a remedy for the vanadium-contaminated ground water west of Area C.
The next five-year review is scheduled to occur by December 2016.
EPA’s Involvement at the Site
- In response to the initial investigations, Virginia Power, the potentially responsible party, extended public water lines to those homes in the immediate area of the site with contaminated well water.
- EPA organized the cleanup into two parts. Part 1 (Operable Unit 1) consisted of the four pits filled with fly ash. Part 2 (Operable Unit 2) consisted of three ponds, a freshwater tributary stream, and the Chisman Creek estuary. A final cleanup decision for Operable Unit 1 was reached between EPA and Virginia in September 1986. In a Consent Decree negotiated between EPA and Virginia Power in 1987, Virginia Power agreed to conduct the design and construction of the remedy. Construction was completed in December 1988. The final cleanup decision for Operable Unit 2, reached in March 1988, included surface drainage modifications near one pond and a water quality monitoring program for each of the ponds, the tributary, and the estuary. Construction of the modifications was completed in December 1990.
- Site construction included a low-permeability soil cap; a soil cover; a groundwater collection system and treatment plant; and an alternate water supply for homes still using residential wells. Additionally, a portion of a tributary was relocated; deed restrictions were applied; and post-closure groundwater and surface water monitoring was initiated. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is overseeing the long-term ground water cleanup of the Chisman Creek site.
- At the request of Virginia Power, EPA issued an Explanation of Significant Differences in March 1994 to replace on-site treatment of the groundwater with direct discharge to the publicly owned treatment works (POTW) for treatment and disposal. Over 23 million gallons of contaminated groundwater were treated at the on-site treatment plant. An additional 64 million gallons have been discharged to the POTW.
- Because of the local community's preference to allow recreational use of the property after completion of the remedial action, EPA approved the construction of softball fields and soccer fields. The award-winning fields are maintained by York County under an agreement with Virginia Power.