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News | July 14, 2021

Aggressive contaminated groundwater cleanup efforts on DCSR discussed during RAB

By Leon Moore DLA Aviation Public Affairs Office

For the first time in more than a year, community members could attend the Defense Logistics Agency Installation Management Richmond Environmental Cleanup Program’s quarterly Restoration Advisory Board meeting in person at the Bensley Community Center in Chesterfield County, Virginia, July 12. These meetings were held virtually since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020.

David Hufford, environmental engineer with the installation’s Environmental Office, opened the meeting by giving an update on several ongoing projects, including Defense Supply Center Richmond groundwater sampling and cleanup efforts at various installation locations.

James Spencer from the engineering firm Architecture, Engineering, Consulting, Operations, and Maintenance gave an update on Operable Unit 6, one of four groundwater sites monitored for contaminates by Hufford’s office. OU 6 is contaminated groundwater flowing under the installation, west of Building 54 and the National Guard Headquarters vehicle maintenance area.

Jimmy Parrish, chief of the Environmental Management Division for the installation said back in the ‘50s – early ‘70s, this area used to be a ravine filled with about everything, from trichloroethylene, a  volatile, colorless liquid organic chemical, primarily used to make refrigerants and other hydrofluorocarbons; tetrachloroethylene, a nonflammable, liquid solvent, widely used in dry cleaning, wood processing, fabric manufacturing, and metal degreasing; and vinyl chloride, a colorless, flammable gas, used to make polyvinyl chloride (PVC) pipes, wire coatings, vehicle upholstery and plastic kitchenware. These contaminates eventually leaked into the groundwater, causing the ongoing problems. 

About 18 years ago, regulators from the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality and the Environmental Protection Agency’s Philadelphia regional office decided that rather than risk stirring things up by attempting to remove the buried items, it would be best to just leave things in place.  As part of the EPA approved corrective action/land-use controls, the area was capped with a very thick layer of clay and reseeded. The long-term institutional controls are to limit use of the site and to exclude digging below two feet. 

Parrish also said injecting edible oils speeds up the decomposition of the chemicals and that long-term testing/monitoring are ongoing. 

Spencer’s OU 6 update included the ongoing unit monitoring, remedial actions, which began in the early 1980s, and planned future remediation efforts.   

DLA established a RAB for Defense Supply Center Richmond in January 2002 to provide a forum for community involvement in the installation’s Environmental Cleanup Program.

As an advisory board, the RAB makes suggestions, recommendations, and comments on issues concerning investigations and remediation activities. It is made up of local citizens, DLA representatives, business groups and personnel from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineering, the Environmental Protection Agency, Virginia’s Department of Environmental Quality and Chesterfield County. The RAB is co-chaired by  a DSCR and community representative. 

The next RAB is scheduled for Oct. 18. Contamination remediation efforts on OU 8, a groundwater contaminated site under the softball field along G Road just inside the North Gate, will be discussed.