Recently, we received an email with a reader question concerning another potentially contaminated military base:
Was there fogging of housing areas with DDT at Lackey?
DDT is Dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane, a banned insecticide. While we are uncertain of data on usage, it would not be surprising to learn if it was used at Yorktown in the past, as the chemical has shown up in soil at other bases like MCAS El Toro. Plus, some chemical components/derivatives appear in the chemical list below.
Thanks to your question and request, we’ve compiled the following information on what is known about Yorktown/Lackey.
Background from the NAVFAC website:
Naval Weapons Station (WPNSTA) Yorktown is a 10,624-acre installation located on the Virginia Peninsula in York and James City Counties and the City of Newport News. WPNSTA Yorktown is bounded on the northwest by Cheatham Annex (CAX) and the Virginia Emergency Fuel Farm, on the northeast by the York River and the Colonial National Historic Parkway, on the southwest by Route 143 and Interstate 64, and on the southeast by Route 238 and the town of Lackey. Originally named the U.S. Mine Depot, WPNSTA Yorktown was established in 1918 to support mine laying in the North Sea during World War I. For 20 years after World War I, the depot received reclaimed, stored, and issued mines, depth charges, and related materials. During World War II, the facility was expanded to include three additional trinitrotoluene (TNT) loading plants and new torpedo overhaul facilities. A research and development laboratory for experimentation with high explosives was established in 1944. In 1947, a quality evaluation laboratory was developed to monitor special tasks assigned to the facility, which included the design and development of depth charges and advanced underwater weapons. On August 7, 1959, the depot was renamed the U.S. Naval Weapons Station. Today, the primary mission of WPNSTA Yorktown is to provide ordnance, technical support, and related services to sustain the war-fighting capability of the Armed Forces in support of national military strategy.
A 1994 Federal Facilities Agreement between EPA, the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality and the Navy originally established 16 sites, 19 site screening areas (SSAs) and 21 areas of concern (AOCs) that required some form of investigation at the facility. EPA signed Records of Decision for the following sites:
1. Dudley Road Landfill – soils
2. Group 16 Magazine Landfill – soils
3. Burning Pad Residue Landfill – soils
4. Surplus Transformer Storage Area
5. Explosives-Contaminated Wastewater Impoundment – soils
6. Plant 3 Explosives-Contaminated Wastewater Discharge Area – soils
7. Plant 1 Explosives-Contaminated Wastewater Discharge Area – soils
8. Conveyor Belt Soils at Building 10 – soils
9. Abandoned Explosives Burning Pits
10. Holm Road Landfill
11. Barracks Road Landfill – soils
12. West Road Landfill – soils
13. Building 476 Discharge Area
14. Battery and Drum Disposal Area – soils
15. Burn Pad – All media
16. Building 1751 Chemistry Laboratory Neutralization Unit and Drainage Area
According to the EPA, the weapons station is one of 35 Superfund sites in Virginia:
The Naval Weapons Station Yorktown (NWS-Yorktown), which is a large, complex military NPL site, has insufficient data to determine site-wide Human Exposure Control status because on-site workers, recreational users, and trespassers could come into contact with surface water, sediments and soil that are contaminated. Contaminants include explosives, volatiles, semi-volatiles, and metals. Unexploded ordnance is a threat to trespassers. Additionally, because the facility was and continues to be utilized by the Navy, munitions contamination is also a threat. The full extent of contamination has not yet been defined for the entire 10,624 acre site.
Note that this issue still ongoing:
NWS-Yorktown “has insufficient data to determine site-wide Human Exposure Control status because on-site workers, recreational users, and trespassers could come into contact with surface water, sediments and soil that are contaminated.
Also, groundwater status still cannot be determined:
Due to uncertainty regarding contaminated ground water migration, one cannot draw conclusions as to whether the migration of contaminated ground water is stabilized.
Sources of Contamination:
- Discharge to sewer/surface water
- Dumping – unauthorized
- Explosive disposal/detonation
- Inadvertent spill
- Incineration residuals handling
- Lake or river – disposal in
- Manufacturing process
- Recycling (Other than primary operation)
- Storage – drums/containers of waste
- Storage – finished product
- Storage – raw material
- Waste tank – above ground
- Waste tank – below ground
Site Facts and Contacts:
NPL Status: Final
US NAVAL WEAPONS STA, YORKTOWN, VA 23690
Congressional District: 02
EPA ID: VA8170024170
Contaminant Information Site Contacts:
Community Involvement Coordinator (CIC):
Remedial Project Manager (RPM):
- Daily Press – NWS Yorktown Contamination
- EPA Page on NWS Yorktown
- NPL in Your Area – Yorktown
- CDC – NWS Yorktown Public Health Assessment
- Navy Info – Yorktown
CDC, EPA, Scorecard
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