NORFOLK NAVAL BASE (SEWELLS POINT NAVAL COMPLEX)
On this page:
- What Is Being Done to Clean Up the Site?
- What Is the Current Site Status?
- EPA’s Involvement at the Site
- Activity and Use Limitations
- Operable Units (opens new page)
- Cleanup Progress (opens new page)
The Norfolk Naval Base (Sewells Point Naval Complex) site is located directly northwest of Norfolk, Virginia. The 4,630-acre facility provides shore facilities and logistics support for Navy vessels and aircraft. Wastes generated at the facility include halogenated and non-halogenated solvents, corrosives, paint wastes, wastes from electroplating operations, petroleum products, and oils and lubricants. In addition, the facility manages used oils, construction debris, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), contaminated oils and trash. Historical operations and disposal practices contaminated soil, sediment and groundwater with hazardous chemicals. Following cleanup, operation and maintenance activities are ongoing.
What Is Being Done to Clean Up the Site?
The site is being addressed through federal actions.
Site 1 Camp Allen Landfill: The long-term remedy included extraction and treatment of contaminated groundwater. Cleanup also included removal actions, or short-term cleanups, to address immediate threats to human health and the environment. In 1994, the Navy excavated buried drums containing waste solvents and disposed of them at a permitted hazardous waste landfill. In the summer of 1997, a groundwater extraction and treatment system and soil vapor extraction system began operating.
Site 2 NM Area Slag Pile: The long-term remedy included installation of a soil cover and land use controls (LUCs). The remedial action finished in June 2007.
Site 3 Q Area Drum Storage Yard: The long-term remedy included installation of an air sparging/soil vapor extraction system and LUCs. Construction for the system finished in the fall of 1998.
Site 6 CD Landfill: The long-term remedy included a soil cap, LUCs and removal of contaminated sediment near the landfill. Cap installation finished in December 1999.
Site 10 Building LP-20: The long-term remedy included air sparging/soil vapor extraction and LUCs. Construction for the remedy finished in the fall of 1998.
Site 22 Camp Allen Salvage Yard: The long-term remedy included a cover system and LUCs. In 2002, a non-time-critical removal action also removed PCB-contaminated soils. In 2003, an additional removal action addressed sediment contamination in the drainage ditch/pond.
Site 23 Building LP-20 Plating Shop: The long-term remedy included a cover system and LUCs. In 2008, a removal action at LP-20 eliminated the possibility of direct contact with contaminated soil.
SWMU 14 Q-50 Satellite Accumulation Area: The long-term remedy included LUCs. In December 2008, as part of a removal action, a cover system was installed over SWMU 14. The cover system eliminates the possibility of direct contact with the waste material and will serve as a parking area.
The Navy, with EPA concurrence, 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 most recent review concluded that response actions at the site are in accordance with the remedy selected by EPA and that the remedy continues to be protective of human health and the environment.
What Is the Current Site Status?
The Navy has investigated and cleaned up multiple sites at the Norfolk Naval Base (Sewells Point Naval Complex).
Based on the data from additional investigations at the Site 18 NM Waste Storage Area, it was determined that levels of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in the subsurface groundwater required an action to be taken. In the summer of 2008 a pilot study was initiated. A solution which should enhance the natural degradation of the VOCs was injected into the contaminated subsurface. Monitoring data indicated the action was successful but additional treatment would be needed. A supplemental injection was completed in May, 2010. Monitoring of the site continues.
In September 2010, the site reached the Superfund “construction complete” milestone. This means all necessary remedial actions have been completed and are operating as designed. Operation, maintenance and monitoring of in-place remedies and institutional controls are ongoing.
EPA’s Involvement at the Site
This site was proposed to the National Priorities List of the most serious uncontrolled or abandoned hazardous waste sites requiring long term remedial action on June 17, 1996. The site was formally added to the list on April 1, 1997, making it eligible for federal cleanup funds. In September of 2010 the site reached the Superfund milestone "Construction Complete". This means all necessary remedial actions have been completed and are operating as designed.
Activity and Use Limitations
At this site, activity and use limitations that EPA calls institutional controls are in place. Institutional controls play an important role in site remedies because they reduce exposure to contamination by limiting land or resource use. They also guide human behavior. For instance, zoning restrictions prevent land uses – such as residential uses – that are not consistent with the level of cleanup.
For more background, see Institutional Controls.
Groundwater is contaminated with volatile organic compounds (VOCs) such as trichloroethylene, tetrachloroethylene, and dichloroethylenes. Public drinking water for the city of Norfolk is provided by the city's municipal surface water supplies. Soil and sediment samples from various sources indicate contamination from metals, VOCs and semi-VOCs, pesticides, and PCBs. For more information about the hazardous substances identified in this narrative summary, including general information regarding the effects of exposure to these substances on human health, please see the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) ToxFAQs. Link: ATSDR's Public Health Assessment.
During cleanup, a site can be divided into a number of distinct areas depending on its complexity. These areas, called operable units (OUs), may address geographic areas, specific problems, or areas where a specific action is required. Examples of typical operable units include construction of a groundwater pump and treatment system or construction of a cap over a landfill.