Summer Vacation: Newport Naval Superfund Site

Weaver Cove off of Defense Highway (Burma Road) looking north to Carr Point in the direction of Derecktor Shipyard

Weaver Cove off of Defense Highway (Burma Road) looking south to Carr Point in the direction of Derecktor Shipyard

This is a continuation of my summer series for fun places to visit that also provide a glimpse into the history of chemical waste in America. In our first installment of summer vacations we were headed to Niagara Falls, New York and stopped along the way to visit Love Canal; probably the most well-known hazardous waste tragedy in the country and the impetus for many of the EPA methods we use today. Years later while vacationing along the beaches of Rhode Island I stumbled across a sign (figure 1). A quick internet search revealed the Newport Naval Education / Training Center Superfund site (NETC).

Superfund, also known as the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act of 1980 (CERCLA) was enacted by the US federal government in response to national hazardous waste disasters that garnered significant public attention; most notably Love Canal. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) was given control over enforcement with the following stated regulatory actions:

  1. Determine methods for discovering and investigating facilities where hazardous substances have been disposed
  2. Methods for evaluating substantial danger to public health
  3. Measures for removal and remedy
  4. Effective plan for local, state and federal agencies
  5. Effective response equipment for accidental discharge
  6. Assignment of responsibility
  7. Evaluate cost effective plans for remediation
  8. Prioritize Superfund sites
  9. Roles for private organizations in testing & cleanup
  10. Standards and testing procedures
Figure 1: Entrance to Tank Farm #1 at NETC

Figure 1: Entrance to Tank Farm #1 at NETC

The EPA prioritized toxic waste areas using a scoring system based on risk to human health and determined funding for these sites under the National Priorities List (NPL). As of August 15th, 2014 the NETC and 1317 other contaminated sites are listed and require cleanup, monitoring or further investigation. This week the EPA approved a $21 million cleanup for NETC which will be paid for by the US Navy.

Additional Reading:

CERCLA Section 105 page 536

EPA Reports: Newport Naval Education and Training Center

Superfund Cleanup to Cost $20 Million

Dredging at the Derecktor Shipyard

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