In 2000, long before “collaboration” was a buzz word, the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) and DuPont agreed to the concept of a South River Science Team. The goal? Bring together people with diverse perspectives and scientific backgrounds to try to figure out two things: why mercury in South River and South Fork Shenandoah River fish had not decreased over time and what might be done to improve the situation. The South River Science Team was established in 2001 and, with a shared goal, quickly expanded to include not only the DEQ and DuPont but also the Department of Health; Department of Game and Inland Fisheries; and representatives from academia, citizen groups, and the Environmental Protection Agency. Today, Science Team members continue to work together to achieve the ultimate goal of reducing mercury levels in fish.
Nearly 2,500 feet of riverbank along the South River has been remediated to prevent erosion. The new riverbanks have been replanted and restored to enhance riverside habitat.
Steps providing river access have been constructed at Constitution Park, and other recreational features that improve the riverside experience will be created as part of future work.
Construction crews have logged over 20,000 hours to date on this work.
DuPont is remediating selected riverbanks along the South River immediately downstream of the former DuPont Waynesboro plant. Riverbanks that are eroding and have elevated soil mercury levels are being remediated to help achieve the ultimate goal of reducing mercury levels in fish. Two remediation approaches are being used depending on the levels of mercury in the riverbank and the amount of erosion. The first approach involves removing mercury-containing soil, and the second approach involves isolating or capping the soil. Regardless of the approach used, preserving valuable trees and habitat is a priority, and care is being taken to minimize the overall impact of construction.