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Naval Weapons Station Yorktown - Cheatham Annex

EPA Region 3 (Mid-Atlantic)

York County

EPA ID# VA3170024605

1st Congressional District

Last Update: January 2015

Other Names

Cheatham Annex

Current Site Status

The Naval Weapons Station Yorktown – Cheatham Annex Facility (CAX) was added to the National Priorities List (NPL) on November 30, 2000. Eight Source Areas were identified at CAX in the final NPL listing including: (1) Site 1 Landfill; (2) Site 9 Transformer Storage Area; (3) Site 11 Bone Yard; (4) Ammonia Settling Pits; (5) TNT Graining House Sump; (6) TNT Catch Box Ruins; (7) Waste Slag Material; (8) 1918 Drum Storage Area. A Federal Facilities Agreement (FFA) between the EPA, the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (VaDEQ), and the Department of the Navy (Navy) was signed in March 2005. The FFA describes the procedures under which the Navy, EPA, and the VaDEQ will investigate and, if necessary, remediate sites at CAX in accordance with CERCLA. Sites 1 and 11 have signed Records of Decision (ROD) at CAX. A ROD is the official document that establishes how each site will be remediated.

Site Description

The Naval Weapons Station Yorktown – Cheatham Annex Facility (Cheatham Annex) is a 1,579-acre federal facility located outside of Williamsburg, in York County, Virginia. The facility is located adjacent to the York River approximately 15 miles upstream of the Chesapeake Bay. The primary mission of Cheatham Annex is that of a naval supply depot; receiving, storing, packing and shipping materials to military facilities on the east coast and major distribution centers in Europe. Construction of the navy supply facility began in 1942. Cheatham Annex was commissioned in June 1943 as a satellite unit of the Naval Supply Depot in Norfolk, Virginia to provide bulk storage facilities in the Tidewater, Virginia area. The mission of Cheatham Annex has remained essentially the same since its commissioning.

Prior to Navy ownership and activity, the site was the location of an explosives manufacturing facility operated by the DuPont de Nemours Company. Construction of a TNT and dynamite manufacturing Plant, designated as "Factory # 37", began in 1916. During it's construction in 1916, Factory 37 was renamed the "Penniman TNT Plant" in honor of the inventor of TNT. The Penniman TNT Plant was completed in October 1916. In 1917, Penniman was converted to a shell loading plant under contract to the U.S. Government, and was renamed U.S. Penniman Shell Loading Plant. In 1918, following the end of WWI, the facility was re-designated as the Penniman General Ordnance Depot. Between 1918 and 1926, the U.S. Government operated the Penniman General Ordnance Depot primarily to prepare ordnance and explosives for long-term storage at other ordnance Depots in the United States. During this same period, DuPont was decommissioning military ordnance and dismantling the former Shell Loading Plant. In 1926, all of the property formerly known as the U.S. Penniman Shell Loading Plant, the Penniman General Ordnance Depot, and the Penniman TNT Plant were transferred to private parties, and a majority of the land reverted to farm use.

An EPA Site Inspection (SI) was completed at a portion of the Penniman Shell Loading Plant site in 1999. The EPA SI identified sources that were formerly part of the overall DuPont plant. Five of the Source Areas used to place CAX on the NPL are related to former Penniman activities.

An Initial Assessment Study (IAS), conducted by the Navy, was completed at Cheatham Annex in 1984. This study identified twelve disposal sites and potential contamination areas. Four of the 12 sites were recommended for additional studies. Three of these sites (identified as Sites 1, 9, and 11 in the IAS) are identified as Source Areas and were used to place the Cheatham Annex facility on the NPL. The Cheatham Annex facility is under the command of the adjacent Naval Weapons Station Yorktown which is also an NPL site.

Site Responsibility
The Cheatham Annex facility is being addressed through Federal actions.
NPL Listing History
This site was proposed as an NPL site on February 4, 2000. The site was formally added to the NPL on January 2, 2001.

Threats and Contaminants

The sampling results collected from the seven sources currently identified at the facility indicate contamination with semi-volatile organic compounds (SVOCs), explosives, and metals. The sources are not fully contained therefore the contaminants may be available to migrate into adjacent surface waters. Cheatham Annex is located in an area with recreational fisheries. Preliminary surface water and sediment samples were collected at Penniman Lake, Youth Pond, Cheatham Pond and Jones Pond. Results indicate that a release of SVOCs and metals has occurred. Based on these findings, catch-and-release fishing restrictions were placed on Penniman Lake and Youth Pond. Fish tissue samples have been collected.

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

Cleanup Progress

Site 4 - Outdated Medical Supply Disposal Area
In the late 1960s, out-of-date, unused, medical supplies, including syringes and empty intravenous bottles, and one-inch metal banding were unloaded down a bank in this area and covered with soil. A Remedial Investigation (RI) has been conducted and an RI Report is currently being prepared for this site.

Site 7 - Old DuPont Disposal Area
Reportedly non-hazardous and/or inert wastes from the City of Penniman and the DuPont Penniman facility were disposed of in this area. A Remedial Investigation (RI) has been conducted and an RI Report is currently being prepared for this site.

Site 9 - Transformer Storage Area
Between 1973 and 1980, electrical transformers, some of which contained PCBs, were reportedly stored at the site for repair or disposal. The storage area, approximately 7,000 square feet in size, was not paved; however it was enclosed by an earthen wall. After 1980, the area was graded and covered with gravel. An Expanded Site Inspection (ESI) is currently being conducted at this site.

Area of Concern (AOC) 1 - Scrap Metal Dump
This is a former debris disposal area located with two ravines (north and south) associated with unnamed tributaries to Jones Mill Pond. Wood and metal debris outcrop from the banks of the ravines, with debris being more extensive within the southern ravine. Disposal timeframe unknown. An ESI is currently being conducted at this site.

AOC 2 - Dextrose Dump
Glass bottles labeled "dextrose" are present, along with several partially buried empty drums, unused respirator cartridges, unused military uniforms, and deer carcasses. A non-time critical removal action is currently being planned for this site.

AOC 6 - Penniman AOC
AOC 6 consists of five sub-areas related to the former Penniman Shell Loading Plant, at TNT manufacturing plant operated by DuPont between 1916-1918.
Ammonia Settling Area - ESI SAP in progress.
Two TNT subareas - RI SAP in progress.
1918 Drum Storage Area - A No Further Action Consensus Letter was signed on 9/18/13.
Waste Slag - the waste slang will be removed as solid waste.

AOC 7 - Drum and Can Disposal Area
Discovered in April 2004 and consisting of two small surface debris disposal areas; one containing a few empty 55-gallon drums and the other is a pit of approximately 30 ft. by 20 ft. by 8 ft. deep that contained 40 to 50 10-gallon rusted cans. The Navy is currently planning a hot-spot Removal Action for this site.

AOC 8 - Area South of Site 7
This site consists of buried debris, including pipes, metal, and wood. There is an ongoing RI at this site.

AOC 9 - Penniman Lake
Penniman Lake is a 48 acre surface water body located in the southeastern portion of Cheatham Annex. The lake was created in 1943 when a portion of King Creek was dammed. It currently has fishing restrictions (catch-and-release only) because of PCB contamination. A multi-step SI is currently being conducted.

Youth Pond
Youth Pond is a 2.5 acre freshwater, surface water body located between D Street and the York River. It is east and downgradient of Site 4. Youth Pond currently has fishing restrictions (catch-and-release only) because of PCB contamination. There is no site or AOC designation for Youth Pond at this time. However, it is being investigated along with Site 4 and may be incorporated into the Site 4 study boundary if appropriate.


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