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Former Nansemond Ordnance Depot
EPA Region 3 (Mid-Atlantic)
EPA ID# VAD123933426
4th Congressional District
Last Update: January 2015
Current Site Status
EPA is working with the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers to find and remove unexploded ordnance and munitions items from the site, as well as characterize the nature and extent of contamination at specific areas of concern. Currently, there are 5 Source Areas being investigated at the Former Nansemond Ordnance Depot (FNOD) site. A sixth Source Area was deleted from the NPL in March, 2003. There are also 23 identified Areas of Concern (AOCs) that are also undergoing evaluation at the FNOD.
EPA and General Electric negotiated a Consent Order in November, 2001, whereby General Electric performed a Supplemental Site Investigation on a portion of former Nansemond Ordnance Depot facility. The Supplemental Site Investigation was completed in December, 2004, finding no further federal interest in contamination contributed by General Electric activities at the FNOD site.
EPA and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers have stabilized the Nansemond and James River Beachfront disposal areas, to include installation of rock rip-rap and the creation of sand barriers to stop further erosional trends at these areas. Remedial Investigation of the beachfront disposal areas is currently ongoing.
The recent completion by the Corps of Engineers of both an archival search report and a shoreline-wide munitions investigation at the FNOD has yielded additional areas of concern at the site. The archival search report recommended the investigation of an additional 3 areas at the FNOD, including a munitions renovation plant. The shoreline-wide munitions report recommended the investigation of an additional 33 suspect areas that might contain munitions clusters. These additional investigations will have a significant impact on the site-wide completion date for the FNOD.
The Former Nansemond Ordnance Depot ("FNOD") is located in Suffolk, Virginia, near the northwestern end of State Route 135. Use and ownership of the property prior to 1917 is not known. Local historians claim, however, that the Confederate States of America maintained an artillery battery, referred to as "Pig Point", on the property during the Civil War in order to protect the entrance to the Nansemond River.
The property was obtained by the United States Department of Army between 1917 and 1929 and was known as Pig Point Ordnance Depot. During World War I, the facility was used for munitions storage, shipment, classification, and destruction, handling up to 1300 tons of ammunition daily. In 1929, the name of the facility was changed from Pig Point Ordnance Depot to Nansemond Ordnance Depot.
During World War II, the facility supported operations at the Hampton Roads Port of Embarkation, including storage and transshipment of all types of ammunition overseas. It also received captured enemy munitions for processing and further shipment to other U.S. military facilities. Toward the end of the war, it was used as a distribution depot, and performed reconditioning and loading of ammunition. In April 1945, the Depot was in demobilization, including the destruction of unserviceable explosives, ammunition, and chemicals.
In November 1950, the facility was transferred to the Department of the Navy, then known as the Marine Corps Supply Forwarding Annex. In June 1960, the facility was declared excess by the Federal government. Of the original 975.3 acres, 5.87 acres were being used at that time by the State for road right-of-way. The remaining government property was conveyed to the Beazley Foundation Boys Academy, which operated a private boy’s military academy there until 1968. The Beazley Foundation conveyed portions of the site to Virginia Electric Power Company in 1960, General Electric Company ("GE") in 1965, and the former County of Nansemond for road right-of-way in 1966. In 1968, Beazley Foundation ceased operations and donated the remaining property to the Virginia Department of Community Colleges, which used it for the Frederick Campus of Tidewater Community College. VDCC later conveyed one portion of the property to the Hampton Roads Sanitation District and allowed another portion to be used for the construction of Interstate 664. The Frederick Campus of Tidewater Community College was closed in 2013 and relocated to downtown Portsmouth, Va.
The property acquired by GE in 1965 included an existing military building, which was modified by GE in 1966, doubling its size. This modified building was utilized by GE as a television assembly plant. GE also added a finished goods warehouse onto this building in the early 1970s. GE eventually acquired a total of about 134 acres of the former Nansemond Ordnance Depot. GE operated a television assembly plant at this location until approximately 1988.
Of the 207 acres deeded to Virginia Electric Power Company (now known as Dominion Power) by the Beazley Foundation in 1960, Dominion Power plans to develop 135 acres and adjacent property into an industrial/commercial park called Bridgeway Commerce Park.
In addition, the City of Suffolk plans to acquire a portion of TCC property for the purpose of developing a commercial area called the Hampton Roads Technology Park on 158 acres in the eastern portion of the former NOD. This latter complex would be constructed along both sides of I-664 and contain office and research and development space, a high-technology workforce development center, hotels and corporate/conference centers, a restaurant, and a day care facility.
- Site Responsibility
The Department of Defense (DoD) has been identified as a Potentially Responsible Party (PRP) at the FNOD site, and the Corps of Engineers is acting as the DoD's representative. Sites for which the DoD has been identified as a PRP are being addressed under the Defense Environmental Restoration Program as administered by the USACE-Baltimore District. General Electric (GE) has also been identified as a PRP at the FNOD site. However, GE performed a Supplemental Site Investigation at the FNOD to determination if GE contributed to contamination on specific portions of GE property that were once part of the FNOD. The GE Supplemental Site Investigation found no further federal interest in contamination contributed by GE.
- NPL Listing History
Proposed for the NPL on January 19, 1999.
Finalized on the NPL on July 22, 1999.
Partial delisting of Impregnation Kit Area on March 20, 2003.
Threats and Contaminants
In the spring of 1987, it was found that bulk explosives, munitions, shells, and other ordnance items, both spent and unexploded, had been disposed of by the DoD in a 2- to 3-acre area adjacent to College Drive on TCC property. A confirmation study of this area, hereafter referred to as the "TCC Removal Area", was conducted in June and July 1987 by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers ("USACE") under the Defense Environmental Restoration Program. This study showed the presence of ordnance and ordnance-related materials, including 19 live munitions, numerous grenades, and a slab of crystalline 2,4,6-trinitrotoluene ("TNT") estimated to weigh several tons. Between November 1988 and February 1989, the following materials were removed from the Removal Area: 4,400 pounds of boosters, 260 pounds of bulk explosives, 1,360 pounds of munitions/miscellaneous ordnance, and 30,275 pounds of contaminated soil. USACE conducted additional field work in the Removal Area between November 1989 and February 1991 as part of a Remedial Investigation and Feasibility Study ("RI/FS"). Chemicals of concern identified in the RI/FS included heavy metals and 2-amino-4,6-dinitro-toluene ("2-A-4,6-DNT") in surface soils, and heavy metals, TNT, 2,4-dinitrotolu-ene ("DNT"), trinitroben-zene ("TNB"), dinitrobenzene ("DNB"), 2-A-4,6-DNT, N-methyl-N,2,4,6-tetranitro-anili-ne ("tetryl"), and hexahydro-1,3,5-trinitro-1,3,5-triazine ("RDX") in ground water. Between April and June 1992, 316 tons of contaminated soil and miscellaneous ordnance items, including 2 3" British shells were removed from the Removal Area. Confirmatory soil samples indicated the presence of residual soil contamination.
An apparent abandoned military landfill and general disposal area is located on a bluff and beach along the James River (Hampton Roads) at the north end of the property, to the west of and adjacent to Interstate 664. This area was also used for the disposal of ordnance. Buried and partially buried debris identified in this area includes discarded ordnance, burned ordnance and ordnance debris, 55-gallon drums, 5-gallon drums, metal debris, discarded asbestos shingling, discarded and burned brick, and discarded paint. Because the shoreline has moved inland (eroded) several hundred feet at this location since the early 1940s, disposal activities may have occurred in areas now under water. USEPA's Environmental Response Team ("ERT") conducted a Removal Assessment of this beachfront area in November 1995 and found the presence of TNT and various metals and SVOCs.
USEPA conducted two additional sampling assessments at the former NOD during February 1997. An assessment by the Site Assessment Program included ground water and surface water / sediment samples, as well as samples of the following waste sources: the impregnation kit (XXCC3) area, the horseshoe pond area, the Park Drive disposal area (steamout pond / burning ground), and the Track K dump (tire and paint can pile). This sampling assessment also included samples from the aforementioned beachfront disposal area, the eastern (main) burning ground, and the brick vault area.
A simultaneous assessment by USEPA's Federal Facilities Program focused on the brick vault area and other areas of concern on 135 acres of the former NOD now owned by Dominion Lands, Inc. The brick vault area includes 22 to 30 underground brick vaults, located to the south and west of Park and College Drives. The majority of these vaults have been filled in with soil by Dominion Lands. The aforementioned impregnation kit (XXCC3) area and horseshoe pond area are also located on the Dominion Lands property. The XXCC3 source area was removed by the USACE in 1999. With the exception of the horseshoe pond disposal area and the Nansemond River shoreline, USEPA's Superfund Program does not maintain an interest in the Dominion Lands portion of the former NOD at this time.
The NPL listing for the former NOD includes 6 source areas: (1) the original TNT removal area; (2) the James River Beachfront Disposal area; (3) the Impregnation Kit disposal area; (4) the Horseshoe Pond disposal area; (5) the main burning ground and munitions Steam-out pond; and (6) the Tract K Dump. A seventh area of concern, the Nansemond River Beachfront disposal area, was discovered by the USEPA in the course of sampling the shoreline area of the former NOD. USEPA and the USACE have also identified an additional 29 known or suspected areas located throughout the former NOD which are possible sources of metals, VOCs, SVOCs, nitroaromatics, and PCBs. These areas include known or possible explosive magazine lines, burning grounds, disposal pits, fill areas, demolition areas, test areas, drum storage areas, other storage areas, holding/settling tanks, ponds, trenches, mounds, ground scars, piers, and off-shore dumping areas. These areas have been identified based on numerous site visits and on a review of historical aerial photographs.
Known hazardous substances associated with the known waste sources located at the FNOD include various metals, VOCs, SVOCs, nitroaromatics, and PCBs. Lead and several nitroaromatics have been released to the ground water. Metals, SVOCs, and TNT have been released to surface water.
Until early 1997, TCC utilized several on-site college production wells ("CPWs") for potable water for its approximately 5,500 students, faculty, and staff. The CPWs were abandoned when a hookup to the City of Suffolk municipal water system was completed. Beginning in about 1993, in response to concerns about the potential for contamination, TCC had made bottled water available. The CPWs were located from 700 to 1,400 feet north and northeast of the Removal Area.
The James River (Hampton Roads) beachfront disposal area and the Nansemond River beachfront disposal area are subject to an observed release of metals, SVOCs, and TNT. The beachfront areas have been used for recreational fishing purposes in the past. Currently, the USACE is implementing site access control to the two beachfront disposal areas by maintaining a fence around each site. In addition, several wetland areas on and near the site may be potentially impacted by releases from the site. There are no known current drinking water intakes which might be impacted by releases from the site.
Contaminant descriptions and risk factors are available from the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, an arm of the CDC.
November 1988 to February 1991 - TCC Soccer Field Area Removal Action: the following materials were removed from the TCC Soccer Field area by the USACE: 4,400 pounds of munitions boosters, 260 pounds of bulk explosives, 1,360 pounds of munitions/miscellaneous ordnance (19 live 3" British shells), and 30,275 pounds of contaminated soil.
April to June 1992 - TCC Soccer Field Area Removal Action: USACE conducted additional removal action activities at the TCC Soccer Field area: 316 tons of contaminated soil and miscellaneous ordnance items, including 2 three-inch British shells, were removed from TCC property. Confirmatory soil samples indicated the presence of residual soil contamination, including lead and TNT.
From October, 1996 to November, 1996, a removal action was conducted by the USACE which involved the sifting of excavated soil that had been stockpiled during the construction of a storm water detention pond at the Tidewater Community College. The sifted soil contained munitions fuse adapters, munitions boosters, 20 mm projectiles, 37 mm projectiles, and 60 mm mortars. The USACE sifting operation resulted in the removal of 500 cubic yards of soil and 31,450 pounds of ordnance material.
From November, 1998 to January, 1999, a removal action was conducted by the USACE which involved the removal of 857 tons of XXCC3 material, also referred to as impregnate, and associated soils from disposal trenches located on property owned by Dominion Lands, Inc. XXCC3 is a granular powder used to neutralize chemical warfare agents. Based upon the success of the removal action, the soils at the impregnation kit disposal area were delisted from the NPL on March 20, 2003.
On December 30, 1999, EPA and USACE finalized an enforceable agreement for the performance of a time-critical removal action for ordnance and explosive hazards at specific areas identified at the FNOD. The time-critical removal action included: (1) access restrictions to the James River Beachfront disposal source area and the Nansemond River Beachfront disposal source area, which includes fencing and signage; (2) implementation of institutional controls for ordnance at the FNOD, specifically including the areas identified as Dominion Lands A, Dominion Lands B, General Electric A, and General Electric B; and (3) the location, identification, excavation, and removal of buried munitions at 5 discrete areas identified at the FNOD along with appropriate post-removal site control. The initiation of the physical removal of identified munitions at the 5 discrete areas began in March, 2000. The physical munitions removal activity at the 5 discrete areas was competed in June, 2004.
The time-critical removal action for ordnance and explosive hazards at the FNOD also included post removal site control. Interim land use controls for munitions and explosives of concern (MEC) at the former Nansemond Ordnance Depot NPL site were jointly developed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers-Norfolk District and EPA-Region III to protect human health and the environment where the risk from MEC is known, suspected, or cannot be totally eliminated by the CERCLA process. The interim Land Use Control Implementation Plan (LUCIP) was completed August 21, 2002, and called for the City of Suffolk and the Virginia Community College System/Tidewater Community College to impose land use controls for munitions at the FNOD. The Virginia Community College System/Tidewater Community College signed a memorandum of Agreement with the Corps of Engineers on February 2, 2005 to implement land use controls for munitions at the FNOD. The City of Suffolk, Virginia agreed to the same in August, 2005. Land Use Controls for MEC are expected to be made final in a future Record of Decision for MEC at the former Nansemond Ordnance Depot NPL site.
To date, over 400 munitions have been excavated from former NOD property which were considered "live" or to contain enough explosives to warrant disposal/deactivation by denotation. The remaining munitions response activities at the FNOD are being conducted as non-time critical removal activities, and currently include munitions investigations at the former burning grounds and steam-out pond areas of the FNOD.
On November 8, 2001, EPA and General Electric (GE) finalized an Administrative Order on Consent (Consent Order), which required GE to perform a Supplemental Site Investigation to determine if GE contributed to contamination on specific portions of GE property that were once part of the FNOD. The Supplemental Site Investigation was completed in December, 2004, finding no further federal interest in contamination contributed by General Electric activities at the FNOD site.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers conducted a non-time critical removal action at the James River Beachfront disposal area, whereby the landfill contents were removed and the shoreline stabilized through the placement of rock rip-rap. The removal action was completed in December, 2001. A remedial investigation was performed on the remaining impacted soils at the James River Beachfront disposal area, which was finalized in 2011. A feasibility study and Record of Decision are planned for the James River Beachfront disposal area in the immediate future to close-out this site. Additionally, a remedial investigation has been completed in 2011 for the Horseshoe Pond disposal area, with a Record of Decision expected to be finalized in 2015 selecting a remedial action for the Horseshoe Pond disposal area.