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Hazardous Waste Cleanup: General Services Administration in Washington, DC

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The US General Services Administration-National Capital Region (GSA) is directing the redevelopment of a 42-acre property located on the banks of the Anacostia River in S.E. Washington, DC. The undeveloped portion of the property is named the Southeast Federal Center (SEFC) and redeveloped portion of the former SEFC is called ‘The Yards’ and is mostly privately owned.

GSA conducted numerous environmental investigations and remediation activities at the Site under two federal mandates: (1) a US DOJ Consent Decree issued in 1998 to GSA and the US Dept. of the Navy, ordering clean-up at the SEFC and the neighboring Washington Navy Yard (WNY); and, (2) an EPA RCRA 3013 Consent Order issued to GSA in 1999.

The SEFC was created in 1963, when the WNY transferred 55-acres to GSA for redevelopment. The 55-acres had previously been used for shipbuilding (1800’s) and  was later heavily industrialized by ordnance manufacturing up through WWII.

Soil contamination was identified as the primary environmental impact from historic site use. contaminants consist of petroleum related SVOCs, PCBs and metals. These contaminants were found near shore in Anacostia River sediment, however, not at levels posing unacceptable risk to human health and the environment. The property is cleaned-up parcel by parcel, prior to redevelopment construction. Contaminated soil is identified and segregated as part of redevelopment soil excavation and disposed of in accordance with local, State and federal regulations. Groundwater was not contaminated except beneath the DOT Parcel, located along M Street, SE, which was impacted by gasoline from off-site leaking underground storage tanks.

Cleanup Status

The SEFC was divided into 15 parcels for redevelopment. Six parcels were investigated and cleaned-up under an EPA § 3013 Consent Order issued to GSA in 1999. Parcels M, P, K, D, N and the DOT parcels were addressed under the 3013 Order. These Parcels were conveyed to buyers or lessors and are part of The Yards properties. In 2014, EPA issued another Consent Order (§ 7003) to GSA to streamline the existing clean-up process for the nine remaining parcels.

EPA issued a Statement of Basis (SB) in June 2015 detailing the SEFC Site history and provides the ‘basis’ for EPA’s proposed final Remedy decision. The Final Remedy Decision was signed in July 2015 after public comment closed. 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 US Department of Transportation (DOT) Parcel, prior to development. Gasoline constituents migrated from a former gas station across the street, possibly 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. GW use for drinking water is prohibited through property deeds. Other engineering and institutional controls are in place for Parcel P. Washington, DC oversees institutional controls for Parcel P under DC’s Uniform Environmental Covenants Act.

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    Land Reuse Information at this Facility

    Parcels currently undeveloped or unsold are under GSA's administration and redeveloped parcels become 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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