By Savannah Volkoff
By now you probably know that Project 3 of our research program focuses on the Atlantic Wood Industries (AWI) Superfund site in the Elizabeth River, VA. We’ve talked about that research in past blogs (see here and here). This month, ToxInsider is bringing you the scoop on remediation: the where-about’s and how-to’s. Now it’s time to hear what’s-what with the Atlantic Wood site!
Timeline of Events
(This is a brief timeline of important milestones during the remedial stages of the AWI Superfund site. For a more complete and technical list, visit the EPA’s page describing the Cleanup Activities at AWI. Refer to our latest blog for definitions of some of the technologies mentioned.)
1986: Atlantic Wood Industries site is proposed to the National Priorities List
All Superfund sites are in need of remediation of course, but some are worse than others. The especially nasty sites get placed on EPA’s “National Priorities List” and the Atlantic Wood Industries site found its way onto that list in 1990 and has yet to be removed.
1987: The first cleanup plan is initiated
Beginning in 1987, Atlantic Wood Industries agreed to insert a liner into a storm sewer drainage pipeline that was transporting contaminants to the river. In addition, sediment and soil near this pipeline was removed and sent elsewhere to be treated. This work was completed in 1995.
1990: Atlantic Wood Industries site is placed on the National Priorities List
2007: Final Remedy Selected
The AWI site was theoretically split into three sections, with different clean-up actions for each section occurring in phases. Plans are selected based on the needs of the site. Remedial action is currently underway for river water, sediments, and onsite soils in two different sections. Plans for remediating groundwater and other sections of river water and sediments are still being addressed.
Today: Construction is still underway
A cap has been constructed to prevent movement of onsite soils and sediments (which contain all kinds of toxic things like PAHs, Volatile Organic Compounds, dioxins/dibenzofurans, and base neutral acids) to clean areas. Various stages of dredging, which is a process of removing sediments from a river to dispose of them elsewhere, and removing other contaminated media, such as soil and water have occurred or are currently occurring. Wetlands are being restored to assist with the natural breakdown of pollutants.
A Familiar Friend for the Elizabeth River
The AWI site is not the only area along the Elizabeth River that has significant amounts of contamination. The Elizabeth River Project, which is a non-profit organization that works to bring attention to the issues along the river, has been involved in a remediation project before. Money Point is an area near the Atlantic Wood site that was also heavily polluted. In 2009, ERP began working with nearby industries to cleanup this toxic spot by constructing a cap and restoring bordering wetlands.
Here is a picture of the beginning of construction:
Here is what Money Point looks like today after 39 million pounds of gunk has been removed!
It may take a many, many more years for the Atlantic Wood Industries site to boast such success, but every site must start somewhere. After its long history of contamination and waiting to be placed on the National Priorities List, we’re happy to announce that remediation for the AWI site is under way.