What is the SRST?
The South River Science Team was established in 2001 and began conducting studies to understand how mercury enters the South River and why mercury in South River and South Fork Shenandoah River fish continues to remain elevated some 60 years after it was used at the former DuPont facility in Waynesboro, Virginia. Through many local outreach activities, the SRST increases the awareness of the fish consumption advisories and communicates the findings from research and pilot project activities.
Including a collaborative team of scientists representing DuPont; local, state and federal governments; the larger academic community in Virginia and local environmental groups, the SRST evaluates South River data, field activities, and proposals for future work – all with an eye toward identifying, managing and reducing risks to the public from mercury contamination. A listing of team members' roles and goals is below.
Additionally, the SRST collaborates with nationally and internationally recognized experts in the field of mercury. These experts keep the team up to date on the most recent information and innovations pertaining to mercury in the environment, recommends issues to explore and provides feedback on proposed team activities. Experts names are listed below along with their affiliation.
- David Hirschman is the Program Director at the Center for Watershed Protection in Charlottesville, Virginia. His expertise focuses on watershed issues, knowledge of local issues, and collaboration experiences with stakeholder groups.
- William Clements is a professor at Colorado State University based in Fort Collins, Colorado. His expertise focuses on stream ecology and restoration as well as long-term monitoring.
- Ralph Turner owns RT Geosciences, in Squamish, British Columbia, and specializes in the complexities of mercury contamination and the biogeochemistry of ecosystems.
- Protect and enhance Virginia's environment
- Promote the health and well-being of the citizens
- Provide education, outreach, and participatory opportunities
- Perform monitoring, assessment, and enforcement
- Develop total maximum daily load limits for impaired waters
- Implement Best Management Practices to improve water quality
- Manage fish to obtain optimum populations to serve the needs of the Commonwealth
- Work collaboratively with the regulated community and citizens
- Ensure that consumption advisories are protective
- Serve as a leader in safety, health, and the environment
- Conduct business with respect and care for the environment
- Realize that healthy businesses need healthy communities
- Promote open discussion with stakeholders
- Recognize the interdependence of social progress, economic success, and environmental excellence
- Invest in science education and scientific research
- Recognize the impact of manufacturing operations on the environment
- Ensure compliance and enforcement
- Perform inspection, monitoring, planning, pollution prevention, risk assessment, and education and outreach
- Collaborate with state partners to achieve greater environmental results
- Enhance environmentally responsible land use development
- Create a culture of innovation that promotes original, inventive approaches to solving environmental problems
- Rely on science and technology to evaluate risk, develop standards, and identify solutions
- Determine the impact of contaminants on living resources
- Prepare students to be educated and enlightened citizens
- Nurture students who will take the lead in making legacy decisions
- Encourage educational experiences through undergraduate research
- Apply classroom learning to real-world situations
- Make contacts to benefit future professional careers
- Ensure that future generations inherit improved and protected streams, rivers, and estuaries across Virginia
- Defend the quality of soil, air, woods, water, and wildlife
- Find smart solutions that are good for the environment and the economy
- Instill conservation ethics
- Use a common-sense approach to conservation
- Perform citizen-initiated water monitoring programs
Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (VADEQ)
As a part of its commitment to protecting the environment and health of Virginia citizens, the VADEQ undertakes efforts to monitor mercury, understand the extent of mercury contamination and identify and evaluate alternatives that may potentially improve the mercury situation. One such effort is the VADEQ’s leadership of the South River Science Team. Additionally, the VADEQ administers a 100-year monitoring program that includes scheduled, routine collection of water, sediment, floodplain soil and fish samples for mercury analysis. For more information, visit www.deq.virginia.gov or email Don Kain.
Virginia Department of Health
Fishing in Virginia waters provides many benefits, including food and recreational enjoyment. Many fishermen keep, cook and eat the fish they catch. As a member of the South River Science Team, the VDH ensures that it achieves its mission, which is to protect and promote the health of Virginians. The VDH analyzes fish tissue sample results from the South River to ensure that the existing fish consumption advisories remain protective of human health. For more information, visit www.vdh.state.va.us or email Doug Larson.
Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (VDGIF)
The VDGIF is responsible for the management of inland fisheries, wildlife and recreational boating in Virginia. For the South River, the VDGIF works with the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality to collect fish and monitor mercury levels and stocks portions of the river with brown and rainbow trout to provide recreational fishing. As a member of the South River Science Team, the VDGIF provides expertise and resources for the collection of biological samples. It also participates in outreach and educational activities to promote the vision of the South River Science Team and raise awareness of the importance of the watershed resources. For more information about the VDGIF, visit www.dgif.virginia.gov or email Paul Bugas.
Between the years 1929 and 1950, DuPont operated an acetate fiber manufacturing facility in Waynesboro, Virginia, and used mercuric sulfate in the production process. As a result of the process and before the effects of mercury were understood, mercury was released to the South River during this period. The company’s involvement with determining the potential mercury impacts to the South River began in the mid-1970s and continued through the formation of the South River Science Team in 2001. DuPont no longer owns or operates the Waynesboro plant, but its dedication to finding solutions to the challenges associated with mercury in the South River continues with the participation of over a dozen DuPont scientists on Science Team efforts. For more information about DuPont, visit www.dupont.com or email Mike Liberati.