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It's been a long haul to clean up area Superfund sites, and the job's far from finished.
Date published: 11/9/2003
By RUSTY DENNEN
When Ann Swope began work as an environmental scientist 22 years ago at Dahlgren, the Navy base was just getting started cleaning up a series of polluted Superfund sites.
Swope will have to work another eight years to see the end of the effort, which is supposed to wrap up in 2011.
"We had just finished the initial look when I got here," Swope said in a recent interview and tour of several cleanup projects at the 4,300-acre installation on the Potomac River in King George County.
Superfund, enacted by Congress in 1980 to identify and clean up the nation's most polluted sites, is now 23 years old and still plodding along at the Naval Surface Warfare Center, Dahlgren Division, and four other sites in the region--Quantico Marine Base, L.A. Clarke & Son in Spotsylvania County, Culpeper Wood Preservers Inc. in Culpeper County and Arrowhead Associates in Westmoreland County.
For reasons of funding, logistics and the time it takes for these projects to wend their way through the federal bureaucracy and the cleanup process, it will be years before all of them are done.
With less federal money in the pipeline for these cleanups, however, fewer of them will be completed on schedule.
Even after the work is finished, all will require long-term monitoring for residual effects such as groundwater contamination.
Federal facilities such as Dahlgren and Quantico fall under jurisdiction of the Department of Defense.
At Dahlgren, dozens of polluted sites have been identified over the years. The list eventually grew to 75 sites--11 were found to be of sufficient concern to place them at the top of a priority list and all but one of those has been restored. Overall, 43 projects have been finished. Work is ongoing at six locations.
"Each year we update our site-management plan," Swope said. Swope and Billy Weedon, the base environmental-restoration coordinator, oversee the projects and coordinate with the Navy, Environmental Protection Agency, contractors, and Virginia Department of Environmental Quality.