Following decades of threats to Portsmouth residents from toxic and radioactive waste at the Peck Iron and Metal site, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is seeking input from Hampton Roads residents on a new cleanup plan for the site. The EPA’s public comment period for the Portsmouth site’s proposed Remedial Action Plan initially ended last May 27, but was re-opened at the request of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation to allow additional opportunities for public input. It will remain open through Sept. 23.
Until 1999, the Peck Iron and Metal Site in Portsmouth, Virginia, processed, stored, and shipped scrap metal from military bases, government agencies, and local businesses. Peck’s operation at this site resulted in the release of highly dangerous toxic contaminants, including lead, arsenic, radium, chromium, and PCBs. In 2009, the federal government declared Peck Iron a Superfund site, which requires an EPA cleanup plan.
Rainfalls and high tides can wash toxic pollution from Peck Iron into nearby Paradise Creek, where contaminants have been detected in fish, wetlands, groundwater, and soil.
The site poses a major risk to residents of Cradock, Prentis Park, Brighton, and other nearby Portsmouth communities, where people live less than 15 miles from nine Superfund sites.
Chesapeake Bay Foundation Environmental Justice Staff Attorney Taylor Lilley issued the following statement.
“This cleanup plan is long overdue. For 60 years, toxic and radioactive contamination from Peck Iron and Metal has threatened the health of people in Portsmouth and polluted the environment. Now is the time to urge the EPA to quickly implement a strong cleanup plan that prioritizes the community’s health and includes public outreach to protect people living nearby.
“The EPA’s cleanup plan for Peck should meet all requirements for similar projects under Virginia law. Any waste left on site should have a liner below it, in addition to a cap above, to prevent dangerous pollution from continuing to seep into the groundwater and wetlands. The EPA must also complete a long-overdue health study of nearby residents to determine how this pollution contributes to cancer rates and other health problems.
“This is the chance for everyone to participate in the process of finally cleaning up this dangerous toxic site and prevent further harm.”
Editor’s Note: Comments may be submitted through CBF’s action alert at this link: https://bit.ly/3RQl0r8. They can also be submitted by mail, email, or voicemail, by Sept. 23 to:
U.S. EPA Region 3
Attn: Victoria Schantz
1600 John F. Kennedy Blvd (Mailcode 3SD23)
Philadelphia, PA 19103
email: firstname.lastname@example.org: 215-814-2010