Atlantic Wood Industries, Inc
City of Portsmouth, VA 23704
Other Names: None
Last Updated: February 2014
The EPA is dedicated to providing you with timely and accurate information about our work at this site. If you have any questions or concerns, please contact:
Larry C. Johnson
215-814-3239 or (800) 553-2509
On This Page
- EA Engineering, Science and Technology, under contract to EPA, completed the design for the dredging of the contaminated sediments. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) will beging dredging in 2014.
- Cleanup work at this site has been partially funded by $3.7 million from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). The funds allowed EPA to begin work in 2010, one year earlier than expected. Part of a landfill berm, and a berm along the river that will help contain dredged sediments have been constructed with the funds.
- In December 2007 EPA issued a Record of Decision (ROD) that describes EPA's selected remedy for cleaning up the site. In August 2012, EPA updated the ROD by issuing an Explanation of Significant Differences to document the increase in the estimated cost of the cleanup from $45 million to $98 million.
- The ROD describes activities to address soil, ground water, and sediment contamination in the Southern Branch of the Elizabeth River.
- The main components of the selected remedy include: 1) a clean soil cover over the areas of contaminated soil; 2) stabilization of creosote and pentachlorophenol soaked soils on the west side of the site; 3) monitored natural attenuation (natural cleaning) of ground water; 4) installation of a sheet pile wall off-shore in the Southern Branch of the Elizabeth River to prevent creosote migration to the river; 5) dredging of river sediments with disposal of dredged sediment mainly behind the sheet pile wall (creating new land); and 6) enhanced monitored natural recovery (natural cleaning) of sediments.
- The Atlantic Wood Industries (AWI) site is approximately 48 acres of land on the industrialized waterfront of Portsmouth, Virginia, and 30 to 35 acres of contaminated sediments in the Southern Branch of the Elizabeth River.
- This land is surrounded by the Norfolk Naval Shipyard, the operations center for the Portsmouth Public School District, the Southern Branch of the Elizabeth River and several other small industrial properties.
- From 1926 to 1992, a wood-treating facility operated at the site using both creosote and pentachlorophenol (PCP).
- The site was contaminated from the treatment operation, storage of treated wood and disposal of wastes.
- At one time, the Navy leased part of the property from AWI and disposed of waste on site, including used abrasive blast media from the sand blasting of naval equipment. The Navy also disposed of sludge from the production of acetylene in a wetland on the border of the Southgate Annex of the Shipyard and the AWI site.
- Sediments in the Elizabeth River contain visible creosote. The ground water and soil at the site are also heavily contaminated with creosote. Creosote contamination previously migrated into a storm sewer and discharged to an inlet of the Elizabeth River at the northeast corner of the site near the Jordan Bridge.
- Currently, AWI operates a pre-stressed concrete products manufacturing facility at the site. The site is about seven miles from the Chesapeake Bay. Approximately 14,000 people work within a half-mile radius of the site. The drinking water supply within a three-mile radius is provided by public utilities. Groundwater in this area is not used as a drinking water source.
NPL Listing History
|Status: Final||Added: 1990|
- The AWI Site was added to the National Priorities List of most hazardous waste sites in 1990.
- AWI completed an EPA-directed removal action (short-term cleanup) in 1995. AWI installed a liner in a storm sewer to prevent creosote from entering into the sewer and migrating to the river. AWI also excavated approximately 660 cubic yards of contaminated sediment from the inlet.
- EPA issued a Record of Decision in 1995, describing how the agency was to address both contaminated soil and sediment from a wetlands area at the site. The ROD required that most of the soil and sediments be treated using bioremediation (inserting bacteria to break down contaminants).
- During the design phase of the cleanup, new information was collected which indicated that the site was more contaminated than previously thought. As a result, EPA determined that the cleanup called for in the 1995 ROD would not have been the most appropriate plan and decided to conduct an additional feasibility study that could take this new information into account.
- In 2002, EPA, AWI and the Navy reached an agreement to undertake a removal action to cleanup acetylene sludge from an on-site wetland and to cap an abrasive blast media (ABM) disposal area.
- The sludge removal and the wetland restoration were completed in 2003. The ABM work has been put on hold in an effort to fold this work into the overall soil cleanup
- A Record of Decision was signed in December 2007. This ROD addresses all of the site contamination in soil, sediments and ground water and replaces the 1995 ROD.
- During the summer and fall of 2008, EPA collected sediment samples to determine the extent of dredging, soil samples to determine if any excavation is required prior to capping the Atlantic Wood property with clean soil, and sediment samples to obtain physical property data used in the design of the sheet pile that will be used to build the containment system for the dredged sediment.
- EPA also conducted a cultural resources survey to look for and document historical resources at the site. All of this information will feed into the detailed design, beginning this winter, to implement the December 2007 Record of Decision.
- In 2012, FIGG Bridge completed the South Norfolk Jordan Bridge across the Southern Branch of the Elizabeth River. The bridge goes through the site, and FIGG conducted a portion of the cleanup
- In 2013, the USACE completed a project to treat approximately 45,000 cubic yards of creosote- and pentachlorophenol-contaminated soil in the southwestern portion of the site. The work was performed in-situ, meaning that the contamination was treated while it was still in the ground.
- In 2013, the USACE finished constructing a large steel pile wall that will contain creosote-soaked sediments in the Southern Branch of the Elizabeth River and the contaminated sediments dredged from the river.
- In 2013, EPA extended the Portsmouth storm sewer from Elm Avenue across the AWI facility to the river. EPA also constructed a ground water collection trench.
- Polynuclear aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), PCP, dioxins and metals contamination (mainly arsenic, chromium, copper, lead and zinc) have been detected in soils, ground water, and sediments.
- Many of these contaminants have also been found in crabs and oysters near the site and stormwater runoff from the site.
- The sediments in the Southern Branch of the Elizabeth River contain creosote as a free product.
- A risk assessment indicated that direct contact or accidental ingestion of contaminated soil is potentially harmful to on-site workers.
- For the Elizabeth River, Virginia has a “DO NOT EAT” advisory for blue crab's hepatopancreas, or yellow mustard. Virginia also has a ban on the consumption of oysters due to bacterial contamination. EPA recommends that pregnant women, women of child-bearing age, children and other sensitive people should limit their consumption of crabs to reduce their potential health risk. Most of the risk is from polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and dioxin. The PCBs are not from this site. The Atlantic Wood site likely contributed to the dioxin in the river.
- Virginia also has issued fishing advisories for a number of fish in the Elizabeth River.
- Walking in the river near the banks of the site could result in a skin burn due to the presence of visible creosote in the sediments.
- Contaminant descriptions and associated risk factors are available at: (ATSDR web site).
- To search an on-line database of documents and reports on the Atlantic Wood Industries, Inc site, go to EPA’s Administrative Record Database.
- The Administrative Record can also be reviewed in person on computers at these locations:
Portsmouth Public Library
28 Prospect Parkway
Portsmouth, VA 23702
Norfolk Public Library
Horace C. Downing Branch
555 E. Liberty Street Norfolk, VA 23523
Chesapeake Public Library
Indian River Library
2320 Old Greenbrier Road
Chesapeake, VA 23325
U.S. EPA Region III
1650 Arch Street-6th Floor
Philadelphia, PA 19103
Call for an appointment.
- Some of the site’s key documents of interest are accessible below.
AWI Site Map Showing Various Cleanup Components (May 2012) (PDF) (1 p, 567K)
2007 Record of Decision (ROD)
- Submit a FOIA Request
Get instructions on how to submit a FOIA request. $Fee$ for requests over 100 pages.
|Elizabeth River||Creosote-soaked Sediments from Southern Branch of Elizabeth River||Bridge Sections Manufactured by AWI and Stored at the Site||Complete East Side Containment Berm, November 2011|
|South Norfolk Jordan Bridge Under Construction, November 2011||Pile Driving for the Sediment Containment Wall, January 2012||USACE sheet pile wall construction July 2012||USACE sheet pile wall construction July 2012|
|USACE sheet pile wall construction November 2012
||PER Properties redevelopment just north of the AWI facility
Storm sewer construction, June 2013
In-situ soil treatment, February 2013.
Complete off-shore pile wall, August 2013.
(Click on a thumbnail to enlarge the photo)
- This is Superfund: A Community Guide to EPA's Superfund Program (PDF) (12 pp, 1.1MB)
- Tell us how to better engage with your community.
- Federal Register
04/12/1999: request for public comment; Atlantic Wood Industries, Inc. Superfund Site CERCLA Sec. 122(h) Administrative Settlement; Notice of Proposed Administrative Settlement Pursuant to the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act of 1980, as Amended by the Superfund Amendments and Reauthorization Act
- Fact Sheets
August 2012 (PDF) (2 pp, 65K)
January 2008 (PDF) (1 p, 45.3K)
July 2007 (PDF) (2 pp, 65.3K)
- Atlantic Wood Industries (AWI) operates a pre-cast, pre-stressed concrete manufacturing facility at the site. Recently, it produced the bridge segments for the new South Norfolk Jordan Bridge.
- In 2010, FIGG Bridge purchased part of the site to construct a bridge over the Southern Branch of the Elizabeth River to replace the Jordan Bridge, which had to be closed due to safety concerns. The new bridge will be a private toll bridge and will connect Portsmouth and Chesapeake. The new bridge has a high span over the river, instead of a draw bridge as was the Jordan Bridge, and will have electronic toll collection making crossing the river faster than before. Additionally, the old bridge had been suffering from diminished capacity for a number of years. The new bridge will provide faster access for truck traffic from this industrial area to the interstate system. The bridge opened in 2012.
- In the fall of 2010, PER Properties purchased the property just downriver from the AWI facility from the Portsmouth Port and Industrial Commission. The property contains a small amount of contamination from the Superfund site and EPA will dredge contaminated sediments just off-shore of the property. PER plans to build a multi-purpose transloading facility to load and off-load ships. PER expects to create 35 new jobs. Initial development activities are taking place at the property.
- EPA and the City of Portsmouth along with other stakeholders prepared a redevelopment plan (PDF) (12 pp, 13.32 MB) for the Paradise Creek Industrial Corridor, which includes the AWI site.
- Want more information about how to reuse a Superfund site?