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Langley Air Force Base / NASA Langley Research Center

EPA Region 3 (Mid-Atlantic)


EPA ID# VA2800005033

2nd Congressional District

Last Update: March 2012

Other Names


Current Site Status

NASA Langley Research Center (NASA LaRC) and Langley Air Force Based (LAFB) were jointly listed on the NPL however; CERCLA response actions are tracked separately as there are two funding sources for the facilities.

NASA LaRC operates under a Federal Facilities Agreement (FFA). All but two sites, the Construction Debris Landfill (OU-5) and Stratton Substation Groundwater (OU-6) have completed remedial investigation/feasibility studies (RI/FS). Records of Decision (RODs) have been signed by NASA LaRC and the EPA for the Area E Warehouse Operable Unit (OU-1), Stratton Substation Soils (OU-2) and Tabbs Creek (OU-3). NASA began dredging soils contaminated with Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCBs) and Polychlorinated Terphenyls (PCTs) along Tabbs Creek (OU-3) in December 1999 and remedial activities were completed in May 2000. An Action Memorandum approving a soil removal action at the Construction Debris Landfill (OU-5) was approved in September 2008. The action is slated to begin in late 2008 or early 2009. The potential for PCB groundwater contamination at Strattion Substation (OU-6) is currently being evaluated.

Currently there is no FFA, negotiated or executed between EPA, the Air Force nor the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (VDEQ). All the sites with the exception of Basewide Groundwater OU-52 (OT-64) have completed remedial investigation/feasibility studies (RI/FS). Ten RODs have been signed by the Air Force and EPA for the following sites: OU-22 (WP-02), OU-24 (OT-06), OU-26 (WP-08), OU-31 (LF-13), OU-34 (LF-17), OU-40 (OT-25), OU-42 (OT-38), OU-47 (OT-51), OU-48 (OT-55) and OU-50 (SS-61). A national dispute between EPA and DoD regarding post-ROD authority had impacted RODs for ten sites at LAFB. However, work has been able to proceed based on an agreement reached between EPA's Marianne Horinko, Office of Solid Waste and Emergency Response (OSWER), Assistant Administrator and DoD Undersecretary John Paul Woodley where cleanup work should continue at the sites where there is agreement on the physical work to be done while the national dispute was being resolved. The national dispute has been resolved and the impacted RODs will be finalized in the near future.

Site Description

LAFB and NASA LaRC sites in Hampton, Virginia consists of two Federal facilities. LAFB covers 3,152 acres, has been an airfield and aeronautical research center since 1917, and is the home base for the First Fighter Wing. NASA LaRC is consists of 787 acres and is a research facility that conducts numerous operations in nearly 200 buildings and 40 wind tunnels. Wastes generated at LAFB include petroleum, oils and lubricants, fuels, solvents, paints, pesticides, photographic chemicals, PCBs, polyaromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) and heavy metals. Wastes generated at NASA LaRC include waste oils, solvents, paint wastes, pesticide containers and rinse waters, photographic wastes, scrap materials, used batteries, and printed circuit board plating wastes. PCBs and polychlorinated terphenyls (PCTs) were used in hydraulic systems, electrical equipment, compressors, and casting operations. There are more than 40 sources of possible contamination at the two facilities. These sources include abandoned landfills, fueling areas, wastewater treatment plants, the storm water system, warehouses, spill sites, electrical substations and transformers, fuel tanks, burning areas, septic tanks, storage areas, waste pits, and training areas. LAFB supports more than 10,000 employees, and NASA LaRC employs 5,000 people. The nearby Back River supports commercial and recreational crab, oyster, quahog, and fin fishing. Its two branches, the Northwest and Southwest, form a tidal estuary that empties into the Chesapeake Bay.
Site Responsibility
The site is being addressed through Federal actions.
NPL Listing History
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 May 10, 1993. This site was formally added to the list on May 31, 1994 making it eligible for federal cleanup.

Threats and Contaminants

At NASA LaRC, soils at the landfills are contaminated with waste solvents and paints, used batteries, scrap metals, pesticides, municipal wastes, general chemicals, sanitary refuse, photo finishing wastes, and hospital and laboratory wastes. Ground water is contaminated with metals and VOCs. Information indicates this area historically has been predominantly wetlands. Sediments and biota in the Back River and Tabbs Creek are contaminated with PCBs and PCTs. Tabbs Creek has been posted as a "No Fishing" area because of bacteria. Electrical equipment containing PCBs and lubricating oils, hydraulic fluids, mercury, and pesticides have been released on the site. Touching or ingesting contaminated soils, ground water, sediments, or fish could pose a health risk.

LAFB has similar contaminates associated with historic landfill operations at the Base.

Contaminant descriptions and risk factors are available from the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, an arm of the CDC.

Cleanup Progress

At NASA LaRC, the Construction Debris Landfill and Stratton Substation Groundwater are currently in the Remedial Investigation/Feasibility Study (RI/FS) process. Follow-up groundwater sampling at Stratton Substation (OU-6) was completed after PCB soil removals and further sampling and analysis of the sampling results and residual risks from PCBs in groundwater will take place in the fall of 2009. For the Construction Debris Landfill (OU-5), NASA LaRC has finalized the FS and collected samples as part of the pre-remedial design investigations for soils and groundwater. Additionally, NASA LaRC is currently conducting a soils removal action at OU-5 with anticipated construction completion in September of 2009. Records of Decision have been signed by NASA LaRC and the EPA for the Area E Warehouse (OU-1), Stratton Substation Soils (OU-2) and Tabbs Creek (OU-3). Remedies selected for these sites include institutional controls at the Area E Warehouse (OU-1) and at the Stratton Substation (OU-2) and dredging and off-site disposal of sediments for Tabbs Creek (OU-3). Tabbs Creek (OU-3) remediation was completed in the Spring of 2000. For Tabbs Creek (OU-3), annual sampling and monitoring have continued in order to assess the effectiveness of the remedy, which is currently in its seventh year of monitoring. A draft 5-year review was completed for all NASA LaRC OUs that have been addressed as part of CERCLA response actions. EPA and VDEQ have provided comments to NASA LaRC on the 5-year review in 2009.

Sites at LAFB have included the storm sewer system, paint shop, an abandoned entomology building, 11 landfills, a fire training area, wastewater treatment plants and the Back River. Several removal actions have taken place at LAFB. These include soil removal at the old entomology plant/wastewater treatment plant area, PCB contaminated soil removal at the abandoned electrical substation, demolition and disposal of the entomology building and excavation of chlorinated pesticide and herbicide contaminated soil, removal of soil and associated piping at an old wastewater treatment plant and removal of contaminated soils at an old transformer storage area. Fourteen RODs have been signed by the Air Force and EPA addressing 18 sites. One No Further Action ROD in 2009 for OU-49 (OT-56). Five RODs were signed in 2008 selecting Limited Excavation and Offsite Disposal of Surface Soils with Land Use Controls at OU-22 (WP-02); No Action for soils at OU-26 (WP-08) and OU-32 (WP-14); Dry Excavation and Offsite Disposal for Sediment removal at OU-51 (SS-63); and the 5 Site ROD to address soils at OU-21 (LF01), OU-23 (LF-05), OU-35 (LF-18), OU-37 (LF-22) and OU-44 (FT-41). In 2007, two RODs for sites OU-34 (LF-17) and OU-40 (OT-25) were signed and these sites are currently in the final construction phase of the remedy. The RODs for these sites also include the OT-25 Annex and the Lighter-Than-Air Cove of the Back River (SS-63). Prior to 2007, five RODs were signed to address no action for soils at OU-24 (OT-06), OU-31 (LF-13), OU-42 (OT-38), OU-47 (OT-51) and OU-48 (OT-55), and one ROD was signed for OU-50 (SS-61) selecting Institutional Controls for soils and long-term monitoring as an interim action for groundwater.

Five remaining LAFB sites still have RODs which have only been signed by the Air Force as they were part of the national dispute over post-ROD authority involving Land Use Controls. Given the agreement to move forward with physical remedies, these sites have remedial actions in place addressing soils: OU-25 (LF-07), OU-28 (LF-10), OU-29, (LF-11), OU-30 (LF-12) and OU-33 (LF-15).

Groundwater is currently being addressed basewide by OU-52 (OT-64). The RI/FS's is continuing for the one remaining site OU-52 (OT-64) Basewide Groundwater. Additionally, LAFB has also completed two Interim Remedial Actions (IRAs) to address VOCs in groundwater that impact parcels SS-61 and OT-06A.


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