Superfund Sites in Virginia

In 1980, Congress passed the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) to provide Federal funding to clean up the most-polluted sites in the United States. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has a computerized inventory of potential hazardous substance release sites, the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Information System (CERCLIS).

The plan was for all contaminated sites ("brownfields," in contrast to undeveloped "greenfields" sites) to be cleaned up. After remediation, formerly-contaminated sites will become available for other uses. For example, the Jordan Bridge was rebuilt across the Southern Branch of the Elizabeth River, through the Atlantic Wood Industries site contaminated with creosote, pentachlorophenol, polynuclear aromatic hydrocarbons, dioxins and metals. Once the contamination was isolated, the remainder of the site became available for industrial use.

Atlantic Wood Industries in Portsmouth, VA
Atlantic Wood Industries in Portsmouth, VA
Source: EPA

Atlantic Wood Superfund site, where contaminated sediments will be excavated and stored at Atlantic Wood Superfund site (City of Portsmouth)
Atlantic Wood Superfund site, where contaminated sediments will be excavated and stored at Atlantic Wood Superfund site (City of Portsmouth)
Source: Environmental Protection Agency Atlantic Wood Industries, Inc

The Superfund is used to clean up sites on the National Priorities List (NPL), when "potentially responsible parties" can not be forced to cover all the cleanup costs. However, only a small percentage of contaminated sites qualify for Federal cleanup funding.

location of the 31 active Superfund sites in Virginia
location of the 31 active Superfund sites in Virginia
Source: Environmental Protection Agency Cleanups in My Community

location of the 31 active and 4 closed Superfund sites in Virginia
location of the 31 active and 4 closed Superfund sites in Virginia
Source: Environmental Protection Agency National Priorities List Sites in Virginia

EPA's map of Superfund sites in Virginia provides one guide to seeing the concentration of manufacturing in Virginia in the middle on the 20th Century. The small amount of hazardous waste generated in the southwest part of the state reflects the limited number of factories located there, in the days before pollution controls.

Coal mining exposes sulfur that can cause acid mine runoff... but typically Virginia mines do not involve heavy metals that are toxic enough to attract EPA's attention.

Avtex Fibers Site - a "Brownfield" Success Story


Waste Management in Virginia
Virginia Places