Statement from Mike Liberati, South River project director for the DuPont Corporate Remediation Group, on the proposed settlement with DuPont valued at approximately $50 million to resolve claims stemming from the release of mercury from the former E.I. du Pont de Nemours and Company (DuPont) facility in Waynesboro.
Since 2003, DuPont has worked cooperatively with U.S. and state governments to assess portions of the South River and South Fork Shenandoah River for impacts from past mercury contamination. This rigorous technical process, called a Natural Resource Damage Assessment (NRDA), is conducted to determine whether harm has occurred to natural resources in the river system. The team conducting the NRDA was made up of technical experts from DuPont and a group of trustees from the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality, and the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries.
Based on the results from NRDA, the trustees believe that some harm has occurred to certain natural resources in the river system, including fish, birds, and amphibians. They also believe there is some impairment to recreational uses of the rivers.
DuPont has agreed to provide $42.3 million in support of restoration projects in the South River and South Fork Shenandoah watersheds. The trustees will use these funds for a number of restoration projects to enhance natural resources in the region.
In keeping with its long history of cooperation with, and participation in, government initiatives, and its ongoing support of the local community, DuPont’s is committed to a long-term presence in the Waynesboro area and to maintaining transparency with its citizens.
Prior to the NRDA agreement, the company also invested millions of dollars, partnering with local universities on curriculum-based classroom projects, sponsoring civic and cultural events, funding park enhancements, and conducting educational outreach to local schools and non-English speaking populations. The company funds the South River Science Team which is run by the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality and conducts testing and evaluation of the river’s water quality.
DuPont will also collaborate with the state to upgrade the Front Royal fish hatchery and continue its work in Virginia to remediate past mercury contamination of the South River related to its former operations in Waynesboro. The first phase of remediation involving a portion of riverbank in Constitution Park is on schedule for a February completion. Soil containing the highest concentrations of mercury is being excavated and hauled away and replaced by clean topsoil. Other areas with low levels of mercury are being stabilized and returned to their natural states with effective erosion controls focused on replanting and preserving native vegetation.