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Poplar Point Cleanup Site

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SITE HISTORY

The Poplar Point Site is located in Anacostia Park in S.E. Washington, D.C., along the east side of the Anacostia River, between the South Capitol Street Bridge, 11th Street Bridges, Anacostia Freeway (Interstate 295), and the Anacostia River, approximately one mile upstream from the confluence of the Anacostia and Potomac Rivers. Anacostia Park is a unit of the National Park Service (NPS) within National Capital Parks-East (NACE).

The Site was created in part by the filling of tidal marshes along the Anacostia River between 1882 and 1927. The Poplar Point area has undergone a variety of land uses since that time. The western portion of the approximately 96-acre Site has historically been divided into two parcels, both of which supported nursery and greenhouse operations from the mid-1920s until 1993. One of those parcels was used by the Architect of the Capitol (AOC), and the other by the District of Columbia's Lanham Tree Nursery (DCL). The central and eastern portions of the Site were occupied by the Naval Receiving Station (NRS) from the 1940s through the 1960s. Between 1959 and 1980, the Navy either demolished or transferred the remaining buildings located at the NRS to NPS.

In 2006, Congress enacted legislation (Public Law 109-396, commonly referred to as the DC Lands Act) directing the United States to transfer the Site to the District of Columbia (District), but the transfer is not yet complete. Currently, NPS Headquarters for NACE, U.S. Park Police Anacostia Operations Facility (AOF), and U.S. Park Police Aviation Unit facilities occupy a portion of the Site formerly occupied by NRS. The former greenhouse and nursery areas are unused, and vegetation has been allowed to grow naturally there. The Site also includes various storage buildings, wetlands, and managed meadows. The existing wetlands, meadows, scrub-shrub areas, and willow thickets at the Site provide important habitat for a diversity of plant and animal life, including some species of special concern.

ENVIRONMENTAL INVESTIGATIONS

Since the early 1990s, a number of environmental investigations have been performed at the Site. Most of these investigations focused on the western portion of the Site, in areas formerly operated as nurseries and greenhouses. Those investigations identified metals, pesticides, semi-volatile organic compounds (SVOCs), volatile organic compounds (VOCs), petroleum hydrocarbons, and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) in Site soils above concentrations that may pose unacceptable risk to human health or the environment (referred to as screening levels). Sediments at the Site were found to contain metals, pesticides, PCBs, and SVOCs above screening levels. Site groundwater sampling detected metals, pesticides, PCBs, VOCs, SVOCs, and petroleum hydrocarbons, and surface water sampling revealed manganese and VOCs above screening levels. In addition to the prior environmental investigations, abandoned drums and inactive underground and above ground storage tanks were previously removed from the Site.

Under a 2008 Settlement Agreement and Administrative Order on Consent, the District has agreed to conduct a Remedial Investigation and Feasibility Study (RI/FS) under the oversight of NPS. Final planning documents (Work Plan, Field Sampling Plan, Quality Assurance Project Plan, and Health and Safety Plan, Building Demolition Plan) have been prepared by the District and approved by NPS. Through completion of the RI, the District will characterize the environmental conditions of the Site, including ecological and human health risk assessments. The FS will present a range of cleanup alternatives and evaluate those alternatives using prescribed criteria.

Previous Site investigations focused on DCL and AOC properties with limited assessment of the NRS property and Site perimeter. Although a significant amount of data has been collected to characterize surface and subsurface contaminant conditions, a number of data gaps were identified during a Data Quality Objectives (DQO) review process completed in 2012, especially on the NPS property. Because the Site is large with a complex and diverse history, a phased field investigation approach will be used to collect data needed to efficiently and cost-effectively meet project DQOs. The first phase of the RI will focus primarily on assessment of shallow soil and groundwater, with more targeted assessment of deeper soil and groundwater. Additional phases of work are expected to fill data gaps that will be identified after analyzing data from the first phase. Additional information about Poplar Point can be found at the the NPS website.

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