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Hazardous Waste Cleanup: General Services Administration in Washington, DC

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The Southeast Federal Center (SEFC) is located on the banks of the Anacostia River, within two miles of the White House. The General Services Administration-National Capital Region (GSA) is directing the redevelopment of the remaining Parcels at the SEFC. The SEFC was originally part of the 217-year old Washington Navy Yard (WNY), which is located on its eastern border. In 1799, WNY was commissioned as a shipbuilding facility and later became an ordnance research and manufacturing facility. Since World War II, the WNY was restructured for use as office and storage space. In 1963 the WNY transferred about half of its property to GSA for GSA to redevelop. GSA began redevelopment, which required clean- up of historic contamination associated with the intensive industrial use during the WNY years. Clean-ups primarily include excavating and removing contaminated soil and disposing of it in accordance with local, State and federal regulations.

Cleanup Status

Under a previous EPA Order issued to GSA in 1999 (§ 3013 Order on Consent), the SEFC conducted environmental clean-ups on a parcel by parcel basis as they were prepared for redevelopment. Under the 1999 Order, the following six Parcels were cleaned-up according to EPA’s acceptable risk guidelines: DOT, M, P, K, D and N Parcels. These Parcels were conveyed to buyers and are now part of The Yards redeveloped properties. In 2014, EPA issued GSA another Consent Order (§ 7003) to streamline the existing clean-up process by combining remaining Parcels into one Remedy decision. There are nine remaining Parcels under the §7003 Order remedy.

In April 2013, GSA submitted its Corrective Measures Study for the nine Remaining Parcels to EPA. EPA reviewed the Study which compares different Remedy options and proposed a final Remedy for the Parcels. EPA approved the Study and proposed remedy, conditioned on public comments. EPA issued a Statement of Basis (SB) in June 2015, that details the SEFC Site history and provides the ‘basis’ for EPA’s proposed final Remedy decision. After the public comment period ended in July 2015, the Final Remedy Decision was signed in July 2015. The SB and Final Remedy Decision for the Remaining Parcels  can be found in the "Additional Site Information " under the  "Documents, Reports and Photographs" heading.

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Site Description

Interactive Map of General Services Administration, Washington, DC


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Currently, Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) Corrective Action activities at this facility are being conducted under an EPA 7003 Consent Order. In 1998, GSA began investigating and remediating contamination under a Consent Decree administered by the US Department of Justice (DOJ) on behalf of a number of plaintiffs. On July 14, 1999, EPA issued GSA an Administrative Order under Section 3013 of the Solid Waste Disposal Act to identify contaminated areas and take interim measures to abate Site contamination. A Section 7003 Order was negotiated with GSA in 2014 to streamline and complete the clean-up already underway at the SEFC.

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Contaminants at this Facility

Soil contamination is the media most affected by the previous intensive industrial activities conducted at the WNY, now SEFC. Contaminants found in soil include petroleum hydrocarbons, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and metals, such as lead, arsenic and chromium. Groundwater (GW) contamination was discovered only under the Department of Transportation (DOT) Parcel, prior to development. The gasoline constituents migrated from the former gas station across the street, with some WNY contribution. GW contaminant are benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene, xylenes and naphthalene, with minor incidences of methyl tertiary butyl ether (MTBE). Contaminated soil was removed from the DOT Parcel and GW contaminants are attenuating. MTBE is no longer found in on-site.

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    Institutional and Engineering Controls at this Facility

    The properties at SEFC are supplied by the public water utility. As an added precaution, GW is prohibited for use as drinking water under current deeds. As parcels are developed and sold, the GW use prohibition is inserted into the deeds. Other engineering and institutional controls are in place for Parcel P. Washington, D.C. will oversee the implementation of institutional controls for Parcel P under D.C.’s Uniform Environmental Covenants Act.

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      Land Reuse Information at this Facility

      The Parcels of the SEFC that remain undeveloped or unsold are under GSA's administration and the Parcels that have been redeveloped and sold are the part of 'The Yards' development.

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      Site Responsibility at this Facility

      RCRA Corrective Action activities are being conducted under the direction of the EPA Region 3.

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