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Waste Site Cleanup & Reuse in New England
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 Site Type: Long Term/National Priorities List (NPL) Click to see more about Site Type and how it is used?


Map this site in Cleanups in My Community
 Kittery,  Maine
 York County
 Street Address: Seavey Island
 Zip Code: 03904

 EPA ID #: ME7170022019
 Site ID #: 0101072
 Site Aliases:

 Site Responsibility: Federal

 Proposed Date 06/23/1993
 Final Date 05/31/1994

Site Description
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The Portsmouth Naval Shipyard (PNS) is located on a 278-acre site, two-thirds of which is covered by a high-density industrial area, containing 376 buildings. The shipyard is built on Dennet's, Seavey's, Jamaica, and Clark's Islands, connected by 90 acres of fill. This filling of the tidal flats gradually took place as the space needs of PNS increased. Shipbuilding at the site started in 1690 and PNS became a Navy shipyard in 1800. Ships and submarines have been constructed at PNS, currently the shipyard is used to overhaul nuclear powered attack submarines. PNS consists of three dry docks, 6,500 linear feet of berthing, and 376 buildings and other structures. Hazardous wastes have been stored, disposed of, spilled, or treated at more than 30 acres on the site. From 1945 to 1975, untreated acidic and alkaline wastes, waste battery acid and lead sludge, wastewater and spent baths from an electroplating operation, and other wastes from various industrial shops were discharged into the Piscataqua River via industrial waste outfalls. From 1945 until approximately 1978, 25 acres of tidal flats between two of the islands were filled with wastes including chromium-, lead-, and cadmium-plating sludge; asbestos insulation; volatile organic compounds (VOCs); waste paint and solvents; mercury-contaminated materials; sandblasting grit containing various metal wastes; and dredged sediments from the Piscataqua River. In the late 1970s, dredged sediment samples collected near the industrial outfalls were found to be contaminated with elevated concentrations of metals, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), and other contaminants. The Navy has indicated that the probable source of the sediment contamination is the industrial outfalls at PNS. Groundwater supplies drinking water to 10,000 people within 4 miles of the site. However, groundwater beneath the PNS (the island) is not hydraulically connected to the groundwater that supplies drinking water. The mainland on both sides of the river in the immediate vicinity is a thickly settled residential area with commercial/light industrial land use activities.

Threats and Contaminants
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Soils contain various contaminants including metals and semi volatile organic contaminants (SVOCs). Sediments contain slightly elevated concentrations of metals and other contaminants. Wetlands bordering Seavey Island have been found to be contaminated with hazardous substances attributable to the PNS site. Salmon Falls, the Cocheco and Piscataqua Rivers, the Great Bay estuary, and coastal tidal waters located within 15 miles downstream of PNS are used for commercial and recreational fishing. Extensive wetlands communities exist along surface water bodies downstream of the PNS site.

Cleanup Approach
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The site is being addressed in two phases: initial actions and a long-term remedial phase focusing on the cleanup of the entire site.

Response Action Status
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Initial Action Seven of eight underground storage tanks were removed in 1994. A temporary cap was constructed at the DRMO Storage Yard. The cap will prevent wind dispersal, surface run-off of, and direct contact with contaminated soils. The slope at the DRMO, which was found to be heavily eroded, was stabilized in 1999. A mercury burial vault was removed from the Jamaica Island Landfill in 1997. A secondary mercury burial vault was removed from the Jamaica Island Landfill in 2000.

OU1 - Site 10 Site 10 occupies a small peninsula located in the Controlled Industrial Area near the southern shore of PNS. Site 10 is currently and historically has been located within an industrial area. The site is located on fill material that was placed prior to the 1920s. Building 238, located within the boundary of Site 10, was built in 1955 and was used for battery recharging operations that previously resulted in releases of contaminated wastewater. Currently, the building consists mostly of office space; some minor battery recharging work is still performed, but the current process does not generate chemical waste. The area surrounding Building 238 and spanning Site 10 is covered by asphalt. A loading dock is located on the southern and eastern side of the building. The site is bounded by the Piscataqua River on the east, south, and southwest. Buildings 303 and 179 are west and additional operational buildings are north of the site. The Site 10 shoreline along the Piscataqua River from the west to the southeast is bounded by a quay wall of granite blocks. Berths 4 and 5 are located south and east of Building 238, respectively. Barges are commonly docked at these berths. A crawl space with an earthen floor exists beneath a portion of Building 238 and the loading dock. The ground elevation of the earthen floor is approximately 5 to 6 feet below the ground elevation outside the building and loading dock.
Large lead-acid storage batteries were drained inside Building 238 as part of the lead-acid recharging operations, and until 1974, the acidic discharges drained directly to the offshore through an industrial waste outfall. In 1974, the acidic discharges were directed into a lead-acid drain pipeline to an underground storage tank. The drain line exited the building in the crawl space and then dropped vertically into the earthen floor of the crawl space. The acidic discharge flowed through the drain line through the floor of the building to a steel underground storage tank. Use of the piping and tank was discontinued in 1984 when a leak was discovered in the tank.

The FS, Proposed Remedial Action Plan(PRAP), and ROD for OU1 were completed in 2010. Remedy consisting of soil excavation and backfilling began in December 2011.

OU2 - DRMO OU2 consists of Site 6 - DRMO Storage Yard, DRMO Impact Area, and Site 29 - Former Teepee Incinerator Site, located along the Piscataqua River in the south-central portion of PNS.
Site 6 and the majority of Site 29 were filled in the early 1900s, the area was used for DRMO operations (from approximately 1920). Over the time the area was used as a DRMO, materials reportedly stored at the DRMO included lead- and nickel-cadmium battery elements, motors, typewriters, paper products, and scrap metal. The major hazardous materials of concern were the lead battery cells and
plates that were stockpiled on uncovered pallets. Nickel-cadmium batteries were also stored in the same manner. Historically, DRMO operations primarily appear to have occurred in the current fenced area of the DRMO, but operations apparently also occurred in areas directly adjacent to the DRMO. Operations, such as open storage of batteries and other materials, that could cause contaminants to be leached or otherwise released by pathways such as infiltration or runoff were terminated in approximately 1983. In 1993, interim corrective measures conducted for a portion of the DRMO included the capping and paving of sections of the area, installation of storm water controls, and installation of a new concrete curb.

Remaining areas of Site 29 area are related to open burning, waste disposal, and
industrial incineration. This area was apparently filled with paper, wood, rubbish, and ash. The ash is reportedly from open burning of trash conducted in the waste disposal area from approximately 1918 until 1965, when the teepee incinerator was built. Ash from the teepee incinerator was also disposed of in the waste disposal area. Onsite disposal reportedly ended in 1975 when trash began being taken off yard for disposal. The teepee incinerator (Building 290) was built in 1965 and used to burn waste material until 1975. The incinerator was used primarily for disposal of wood, paper, and rubbish, with occasional burning of cans of paint and solvents. Ash from the incinerator was deposited south of the incinerator until 1971 when the residue began to be landfilled in the Jamaica Island Landfill (OU3) and the Kittery municipal landfill. The incinerator was demolished soon after operations ended in 1975.

Currently, the DRMO is responsible for the reuse, transfer, donation, sale, or disposal of excess and surplus DoD property in New England. DRMO operations are conducted in the paved portion of the fenced area; the area that was capped in 1993 is covered with grass and barricaded from use for any activities. The operations use temporary trailers and buildings; there are no permanent buildings located at the DRMO. Two buildings are located in the Site 29 area; Building 298 is used for office space, and Building 310 is the hose handling facility.

OU2 shoreline is steeply sloped and has shoreline erosion controls (riprap and a seawall) placed along portions of the shoreline in 1999, 2005, 2006, and 2008 to provide erosion protection. The OU2 shoreline is difficult and dangerous to access because of strong river currents and the steep embankment from the site to the river.

The FS Report for OU2 was finalized in April 2011. The ROD was signed in September 2011 and details a remedy consisting of soil excavation, off-site disposal, and institutional controls.

OU3 - Jamaica Island Landfill OU3 consists of Site 8 - JILF, Site 9 - Former Mercury Burial Sites (MBI and MBII), and Site 11 - Former Waste Oil Tank Nos. 6 and 7. OU3 is approximately 22 acres and is used for parking, occupational uses, and recreational uses. Wetlands are located adjacent to the northern end of OU3, by Jamaica Cove. The hazardous waste storage facility (Building 357) is located to the northeast; although, the boundary of OU3 extends into a portion of the paved area west of the building. Clark Cove is east of the landfill, and the solid waste storage facility (Building 337) is located to the south. The Automotive Hobby Shop (Building 320) and hospital (H1) are located to the west. Site 8 is the landfill (JILF) and Sites 9 and 11 were located within the JILF boundary.
JILF, which previously consisted of tidal mudflats, was used as a disposal area from 1945 to 1978 for general refuse, trash, construction rubble, dredged sediment, and various industrial wastes.
A ROD for the Jamaica Island Landfill (JILF) source area was signed in 2001. This ROD required the construction of a hazardous waste cap over the landfill; construction of a restored salt water wetland, erosion control measures along the shore of the JILF; development, implementation and monitoring of institutional controls; long-term monitoring; and operation and maintenance. Construction is complete.

Post-remedial operation, maintenance, and monitoring (OM&M) is being conducted at OU3.

OU4 - Offshore Sediments OU4 consists of the areas offshore of PNS that potentially were affected by PNS onshore IRP sites. An interim remedy (monitoring) is being conducted for OU4 until the final remedy is implemented.
The OU4 FS Report is being prepared.

OU 7 - Topeka Pier, Site 32 Site 32 encompasses approximately 17 acres of filled land on the northern shore of PNS, along the Back Channel of the Piscataqua River, from just west of Building 162 to east of Building H29 and from the Back Channel south to Building 129.
Filling in the OU7 area began in 1900 when excavated material from the construction of Dry Dock No. 2 was used to connect Dennett's and Seavey Islands. A new pier, Topeka Pier, was constructed in the Back Channel of the Piscataqua River to dock the prison shipUSS Topeka. Storing and milling of lumber in the area began by 1910, and a timber basin was established at the southeastern corner of the site. The area west of the timber basin was used to store coal, wood, and scrap iron. Building 98 was constructed to store combustibles including paints and oils. By the early 1920s, a sawmill (Building 129), a lumber storehouse with timber racks (Building 132), and an additional lumber storehouse (Building 149) were built west of the timber basin to accommodate the increased demand for lumber during WWI. Filling continued until 1945.

In 1994 and 1995, excavation work performed by the Shipyard along Goodrich Avenue and near Building H23 uncovered debris including large dry-cell batteries, graphite electrodes, brick, wood, metal pipe and wire, glass, asbestos cloth, and crucibles used in foundry operations.

Current land use includes office parking (about 35 percent of the site area), equipment storage, vehicle and rail car maintenance, transducer repair, boat launch, temporary housing for Navy personnel (H23), and hospital (H1). The pier and offshore areas of OU7 are used for docking of boats.

A RI is being conducted.

OU8 - West Timber Basin, Site 31 OU8 is a paved area located in the CIA, in the northeastern portion of PNS, surrounded by buildings or dry docks. The main site features were associated with the former plate yard, which was a fenced area with railroad spurs. Equipment and temporary facilities were within the fence of the former plate yard. Building 157, formerly the plate yard office, was vacant until demolition in 2006. Building 92 located east of the former plate yard, is the Structural Shop.
During the early 1900s, wood for shipbuilding was stored and seasoned in the West Timber Basin. In 1900, filling of the West Timber Basin was proposed to provide additional pier and working space to accommodate the increased docking and repair of battleships at PNS. Additionally, storage racks and pickling tanks were proposed for erection in the area for use in steel plate cleaning and recovering. By 1913, wet storage of wood had ceased at the West Timber Basin, and following approval of the proposal in 1916, the timber basin began to be filled. A metal washing plant (Building 110) for the recovery of metals from the ash and skimmings of the brass foundries on the Shipyard was erected on the northern side of the site. By-products from the plant were discarded into the timber basin. In addition, by-products from smelting and pigging (the process of pouring melted iron from a form into a mold) operations at the Shipyard were deposited into the timber basin. In 1917, a quay wall enclosed the basin, and between 1920 and 1940, the basin continued to be filled. The fill included rock, soil, cinders, and other waste and scrap material.

In 1940, Building 92 had been extended into the West Timber Basin, and a new plate yard was constructed near the quay wall. Also in 1940, the metal washing plant was razed along with Buildings 51 (acetylene plant and former pitch plant) and 83 (latrine). The Building 110 pickling tanks were removed, and train tracks traversed the area. The plate yard was active for 20 years (until 1960), serving as the primary steel storage yard and pickling location at the Shipyard. The pickling tanks for the plate yard were removed from the site at an unknown time. Filling of the area west of the timber basin was conducted from approximately 1940 to 1948.

A RI is being conducted.

OU9 - Former Oil Gasification Plant, Site 34 OU9 is located in the central portion of PNS. The buildings at and in the vicinity of OU9 are used for industrial and commercial uses, and the paved areas surrounding the buildings are used for parking: Building 62 and its annex currently are used by the NAVFAC Mid--Atlantic Public Works Department as a mini-bulldozer shop and for storage. A parking garage is located east of the former locations of Buildings 63 and 188. OU9 is in a historic district at PNS, and buildings at and near the site (Buildings 40, 43, 60, and 62) are considered contributing elements to the National Registry District. There is a relatively flat grassy area with a picnic table north of former Building 63. In general, the land on the northern side of Building 62 Annex and northeast of Building 62 slopes gently north towards the roadway and then slopes steeply to the water's edge at the shoreline of the site adjoining the Back Channel of the Piscataqua River. Access to the shoreline from the site is difficult because of the rapid changes in terrain at the ledges.
The Former Oil Gasification Plant, Building 62 (built in the late 1800s) and the more recent annex (built in the 1940s) are the most prominent features related to use of the site. Ash was generated from the combustion of coal as part of oil gasification (kerosene was converted to illuminating gas) from 1870s to early 1900 and as part of the blacksmith shop from 1915 to 1930. Ash, assumed to be from the combustion of coal (and potentially including ash from a building fire), was deposited primarily north of Building 62, resulting in an ash pile. Until the ash was removed in 2007, the pile was covered by vegetation including grass and small bushes and trees. Ash was also found under asphalt around Buildings 62, 62 Annex, and 63. After 1930, Building 62 and Annex were used by the Public Works Department. Pesticide storage activities were conducted in Building 62 in the 1960s until 1985 when a new pesticide control shop was built on the southern side of the Shipyard.

A Removal Action was performed in 2007. The Removal Action consisted of extensive excavation and off-site disposal of contaminated soils and ash.

An RI is being conducted.

Building 184, Site 30 Building 184 was constructed in 1943 as a galvanizing plant to accommodate the Shipyard's increased production schedule in support of the WWII effort. However, by the end of the war, the Shipyard's production requirements were reduced dramatically, and galvanizing was performed off yard by a private contractor. In 1946, Building 184 was converted from a galvanizing plant to the Shipyard's electrical testing laboratory. Sometime between 1954 and 1956, the building was converted into a clean room facility and used for cleaning and assembling metal parts. In the early 1960s, the building was converted into a welding school, and a flame-spray galvanizing system was installed in the building. Until 2010, the building was used as a welding school. The welding school has been relocated, and Building 184 is not currently in use.
As part of the original galvanizing operations, an acid pit was constructed in the floor of the central portion of Building 184, along the eastern wall. With the changes in usage of Building 184, the use of the acid pit also changed. The acid pit was filled and covered during use of the building as an electrical testing laboratory in which large shock-testing and vibration-testing machines were used. Molds and dies were stored in the area during this time. The conditions of the acid pit and tank at the time of covering are unknown. The acid pit was uncovered when the building was converted to a clean room facility, and the pickling tanks within the pit were used for metal parts assembly in the clean room. Use of the pit and tanks was discontinued again, and the pit was filled and covered, when the building was converted to a welding school. An office was constructed over the former acid pit area in the early to mid-1970s.

The former acid pit, measuring approximately 52 feet long, 35 feet wide, and a maximum of 4 feet deep, was constructed as a concrete pit lined with acid-proof bricks set in acid-proof cement. The bottom of the acid pit was sloped to a drain at the center of the western side of the pit. The original drain appears to have been connected to the sanitary sewer system on the western side of the building.

A crystalline substance along the edges of the former acid pit was first observed in 1973 and again in 1994 and 1996. The crystals had a low pH (around 1.0 or 2.0) and were composed of predominantly sulfate and metals. The material was not hazardous based on Toxicity Characteristic Leaching Procedure (TCLP) characteristics but may be hazardous based on the RCRA corrosivity criterion because of the caustic nature of the crystals.

A Removal Action is being conducted.

Enforcement HighlightsIn early 1989, the EPA issued a Hazardous and Solid Waste Amendments (HSWA) Permit to PNS requiring corrective action to be evaluated at 13 of the 28 solid waste management units. In 1999 a Federal Facility Agreement was signed by EPA and the Department of the Navy. This agreement supersedes the HSWA permit.

Environmental Progress
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Capping the DRMO Storage Yard, stabilizing the DRMO shoreline, removing underground storage tanks, and removing the mercury burial vaults has provided for the protection of the safety of the public and the environment while investigations into the nature and extent of contamination at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard site are complete.

Current Site Status
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Work is currently underway at seven Operable Units (OUs) at Portsmouth Naval Shipyard (PNS). In addition, there are several site Screening Areas that are being preliminarily evaluated to determine whether a Remedial Investigation should be performed at these areas.

Monitoring of the Off-Shore Areas (OU4) sediments and biota continues per the 1999 IROD.

All of the remaining OUs are in the Remedial Investigation (RI)/Feasibility Study (FS) phase of work.

Site Photos
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SDMS 452903
Constructing a restored salt water wetland at OU3, the Jamaica Inland Landfill.

SDMS 452904
Excavation of Debris & Fill from the OU3, Jamaica Island Landfill
for the restored salt water wetland. Excavated material to be
placed underneath new landfill cap.

Links to Other Site Information
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Disclaimer Instructions about PDF

Newsletters & Press Releases:
Press Releases about this project  

Federal Register Notices:
Final NPL Listing  

Reports and Studies:
Five Year Review Report, August 6, 2007 (Opening File is 24.28 MB with Links to Five Additional PDF Files )  
Proposed Remedial Action Plan (PRAP) for Operable Unit 1, June 2010 (1.44 MB)  
Final Proposed Remedial Action Plan for Operable Unit 4, February 2013 (1.80 MB with a link to an additional PDF file)  

Decision Documents:
View Records of Decision (RODS) on-line (EPA HQ)  
Record of Decision for Operable Unit 3, August 29, 2001 (2,988KB)  
Explanation of Significant Difference for the Record of Decision for Operable Unit 3, September 19, 2003 (827KB)  
Final Explanation of Significant Differences (ESD)for the Record of Decision for Operable Unit 3, October 16, 2005 (1.37 MB)  
Record of Decision (ROD) for Operable Unit 1 - Site 10, September 27, 2010 (4.2 MB)  
Record of Decision (ROD) for Operable Unit 4 - Site 5 and Offshore Areas Potentially Impacted by Installation Restoration Sites, August 15, 2013 (22.0 MB)  

Other Links:
NPL Site Narrative at Listing:  
Site Progress Profile  

Site Repositories
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Kittery Town Hall, 200 Rogers Road Ext., Kittery, ME 03904
Portsmouth Public Library, 8 Islington Street, Portsmouth, NH 03801

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EPA Remedial Project Manager: Matthew Audet
Address: US Environmental Protection Agency
5 Post Office Square, Suite 100
Mail Code: OSRR07-3
Boston, MA 02109-3912
Phone #: 617-918-1449
E-Mail Address: audet.matthew@epa.gov

EPA Community Involvement Coordinator: Kate Renahan
Address: US Environmental Protection Agency
5 Post Office Square, Suite 100
Mail Code: ORA01-3
Boston, MA 02109-3912
Phone #: 617-918-1491
E-Mail Address: renahan.kate@epa.gov

State Agency Contact: Iver McLeod
Address: Maine Dept. or Environmental Protection
State House Station #17
Augusta, ME 04333
Phone #: 207-287-8010
E-Mail Address: iver.j.mcleod@state.me.us.


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