News | April 15, 2021

Aggressive contamination cleanup efforts paying off on DCSR

By Leon Moore DLA Aviation Public Affairs

Community members virtually attended the Defense Logistics Agency Installation Management Richmond’s Environmental Cleanup Program quarterly Restoration Advisory Board meeting April 12. These meetings have been 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 to several ongoing projects, including Defense Supply Center Richmond groundwater sampling and cleanup efforts at various locations on the installation.

James Spencer from the engineering firm Architecture, Engineering, Consulting, Operations, and Maintenance gave an update on Operable Unit 7, one of four groundwater sites monitored for contaminates by Hufford’s office. OU 7 is the groundwater contaminated within the former fire training area located just south of Parker Pond on the southeast side of DSCR.

Jimmy Parrish, chief of the Environmental Management Division for DLA Installation Management Richmond said back in the early 60’s, the installation’s fire department would train by placing flammable materials in three fire pits in that area and set them on fire. It’s the remnants of these evolutions that are causing the contamination of OU 7. These contaminates are volatile organic compounds such as tetrachloroethene and trichloroethene.

Spencer’s update included the ongoing unit monitoring, remedial actions, which began in 2009, and remediation efforts planned for the future.   

He also talked about the drastic reduction in the overall size and number of groundwater plumes. These are the levels of hazardous contamination within the groundwater and can be created when pollutants are released into the ground and work their way down into the water below. The OU 7plumes are mainly concentrated in and around those three old fire pits, which, according to Hufford, haven’t been used for training purposes since the late 1970s.

Spencer said the latest round of testing showed some levels of contaminates have been reduced by nearly 100% and that reducing the level of contamination within these plumes is also helping to shrink their overall size. 

Jimmy Parrish, chief of the Environmental Management Division for DLA Installation Management Richmond, said the injection of edible oils along with the earth’s natural bacteria breaking down the chemicals into lesser hazardous sub-forms are contributing factors in successful reduction.

“We have been working for so many years at trying to first identify, control, and then minimize this level of contamination,” said Parrish. “It is so exciting to see that our efforts are paying off and that we are continuing to do great things for the environment and in this case, our neighbors.”  

“We still have lots of work to do, but we have a sound plan and are making progress,” said Parrish.  

DLA established a RAB for Defense Supply Center Richmond in January 2002 to provide a forum for the 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 both a DSCR and community representative. 

RAB meetings are normally held at the Bensley Community Center in Chesterfield County, Virginia and open to the public, but due to COVID-19, they are being conducted virtually until further notice.

The next RAB is scheduled for July 12. Contamination remediation efforts on OU 6, an area near the Virginia National Guard Headquarters just inside the Strathmore Gate entrance to DSCR will be discussed.