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Ruth Podems, (215) 814-5540
Portsmouth, Va. - To protect more than 2,000 Tidewater Community College students and faculty nearby, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and U.S. Army will begin removing buried munitions at the former Nansemond Ordnance Depot here.
The buried munitions pose no immediate threat to the community if left in place and undisturbed. However, if future use of the property should disturb them, they could explode. Therefore, as a preventive measure, it is necessary to remove them.
The college, currently in session, operates on the northern-most area of this former military depot. Community members also use this site for recreational activities. Students, faculty and community members can continue their everyday activities without risk during the removal process.
From 1917 to 1960, the Defense Department used this site to assemble, store and destroy military munitions and weaponry. Since 1960, Nansemond has been owned by various private and public entities.
In 1988, soils and groundwater were found to be contaminated with lead and TNT. Over the past 12 years, buried munitions have also been discovered on college property.
EPA placed the former ordnance depot on its Superfund National Priorities List of most hazardous waste sites in 1999. Sites placed on the NPL are eligible for long-term EPA cleanup.
The current investigation and removal of buried munitions is one of the first steps EPA and the Army are taking to clean the site. EPA is also overseeing the Army’s work plan that outlines extensive soil and groundwater cleanup in various areas including the Horseshoe Pond.
Cleanup of the James River beach front area on the site is scheduled to begin this spring.