U.S. EPA Contaminated Site Cleanup Information (CLU-IN)


U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
U.S. EPA Technology Innovation and Field Services Division

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Case Study Profiles
EPA has successfully implemented ecological revitalization projects at several contaminated sites. This page presents some of these success stories. For a more detailed list of successful ecological revitalization projects, please see Appendix A of Ecological Revitalization –Turning Contaminated Properties into Community Assets.

Ecological Revitalization Project Profiles Database button

The Ecological Revitalization Project Profiles Database contains information about completed and on-going projects where ecological revitalization was involved in solutions to various environmental concerns.

A fact sheet providing an overview of the Ecological Revitalization Database can be found here:
Ecological Revitalization Database Fact Sheet








Chisman Creek Site, York County, VA
Chisman Creek Site After photo
Soccer field at Wolf Trap Park, where the former Chisman Creek site once was located.
Before and after photographs of the Chisman Creek Superfund site, the first Superfund site in the nation to be redeveloped after cleanup.
Photographs courtesy of U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
Chisman Creek Site Before
Aerial view of Chisman Creek site, showing coal ash dumping grounds and gravel pits.
Between 1957 and 1974, the Chisman Creek site was used as a coal ash dumping ground by the nearby Yorktown Power Station. The ash was left over from burning coal and petroleum coke to produce electricity. About 500,000 tons of ash were deposited at the site before the power plant was converted to burn fuel oil in 1974. In the early 1980s, state agencies investigated the site and found heavy metals in groundwater and surface water. In response, EPA placed the site on the National Priorities List in 1983. Assessment and remediation work began soon thereafter. Before the Chisman Creek Superfund site was cleaned up, it was unusable land that provided no benefits to the local community. Thanks to the leadership of the responsible party and the York County, Virginia government, the site became the first Superfund site in the nation to be redeveloped after cleanup. Today, the site has been transformed into two jewels of the York County, Virginia, park system. This case study tells the story of one of the first Superfund sites in the country, and how its pioneering redevelopment continues to be an example of success 25 years later.
Longhorn Army Ammunition Plant, Karnack, TX
Longhorn  Army Ammunition Plant After photo
Longhorn Plant After
Before and after photographs of the Longhorn Army Ammunition Plant. The cleanup process incorporated ecological revitalization activities, and the land is now a thriving wildlife refuge.
Photographs courtesy of U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
Longhorn  Army Ammunition Plant Before
Longhorn Plant Before
Established in December 1941 to produce TNT for World War II, the Longhorn Army Ammunition Plant facility was a major employer in east Texas. Over time, the facility produced a variety of munitions, including incendiary devices and rocket motors. Facility operations and chemical releases resulted in the contamination of soil and groundwater with volatile organic compounds, perchlorate, metals and explosives. EPA, along with the U.S. Army and the Texas Commission for Environmental Quality, began cleanup of the site in 1991. As the cleanups progressed, the Army began transferring land to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) for stewardship and management. To date, over 7,000 acres have been transferred and transformed into the Caddo Lake National Wildlife Refuge, where forest, wetland and aquatic habitats support hundreds of species of wildlife and visitors enjoy various outdoor activities. This case study provides information and lessons learned for parties interested in Superfund site reuse, habitat conservation, and the adaptation of former federal facility and military sites for public use.
TVA Kingston Fossil Plant Fly Ash, Roane County, TN
TVA Kingston Site After photo
TVA Kingston Site After
Before and after photographs of the TVA Kingston Fossil Plant Fly Ash Superfund Site in Tennessee, where the cleanup process incorporated ecological revitalization activities and preserved shoreline and wetland habitat along the Emory River.
Photographs courtesy of U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
VA Kingston Site Before
TVA Kingston Site Before
In December 2008, a dike containing about 20 million cubic yards of coal ash from power plant operations failed and released over 5 million cubic yards of coal ash into the Emory River and adjacent land. The spill had significant effects on the community and environment. Aquatic organisms and shorelines were buried in coal ash. Cleanup was needed to ensure the protection of human health and the environment. The cleanup process considered ecological revitalization of the site and surrounding area as an integral part of all response activities. A team of biologists, landscape architects, and engineers worked together to integrate plantings and ecological aspects as components of the cleanup activities. An ecosystem was created by planting a mosaic of forested, scrub-shrub, and emergent wetland plant communities, as well as native trees and seeds in disturbed areas. Today, there are frequent bird sightings at the site, including white ibises, cattle egret, and herons.
Anaconda Smelter Superfund Site, Anaconda, MT
Perennial grasses now cover the Site
Perennial grasses now cover the Site
EPA's ecological revitalization efforts helped restore vital grasslands at the Anaconda Smelter Site.
Soil Tilling at the Anaconda Smelter Site
Soil Tilling at the Anaconda Smelter Site
Contamination from nearly 100 years of copper smelter operations affected the health and quality of the environment at the Ancaconda Smelter Site. Estimates indicate that more than a billion gallons of groundwater were contaminated and thousands of acres of soil were affected by fluvially transported mine wastes and smelter emissions. The massive 300-square-mile site area and variable, rugged terrain provided major remedial design challenges. The innovative site evaluation and assessment techniques, paired with effective remedial processes such as tilling and adding soil amendments, have helped restore these vital grasslands and ranch areas. The uplands remediation and ecological revitalization efforts have served to provide key lessons and replicable assessment techniques for other sites with area-wide contamination.
Palmerton Zinc Pile Superfund Site, Palmerton, PA
After photo of Blue Mountain in Pennsylvania
Blue Mountain After
Before and after photographs of Blue Mountain, adjacent to the zinc smelter site. Soil amendments and revegetation over a 10-year period has restored 70 percent of the site's vegetative cover.
Photographs appear in "Palmerton Zinc Pile, Palmerton, Carbon County, Pennsylvania, Superfund Case Study" factsheet.
Before photo of Blue Mountain in Pennsylvania
Blue Mountain Before
Over 80 years of zinc smelting operations at the Palmerton Zinc Superfund Site left surface soils, shallow groundwater, and stream sediments contaminated with heavy metals. Large quantities of zinc, lead, cadmium, and sulfur dioxide emitted by two former zinc smelters from the late 1800s to 1980 damaged vegetation and defoliated over 2,000 acres of land. With no plants to keep the soil in place, erosion of contaminated soil impacted the nearby Lehigh River and Aquashicola Creek. To stabilize the contaminated soil, the site was revegetated using a variety of ecological revitalization techniques that evolved over time and took into consideration up-to-date technologies. Revegetation has stabilized the treated area, reduced soil erosion, and improved water quality associated with runoff from the site. A 450-acre portion of the site is now filled with warm-season grasses and is the home of the Lehigh Gap Nature Center, where both wildlife and the public are able to enjoy the lush open space.
Occidental Chemical Corporation, Montague, Michigan RCRA Case Study
Occidental Site in Idaho after
Occidental Site After
Before and after photos show the transformation of the Occidental Site in Montague, Michigan.
Occidental Site in Idaho before
Occidental Site Before
This is the story of the transformation of a former chemical manufacturing site into thriving wetland, prairie, and woodland habitat. The closure of Occidental Chemical Corporation (Oxy) facility in Montague, Michigan in 1983 left behind soil and ground water contaminated with chlorinated organic chemicals. Habitat preservation is an Oxy corporate principle so after meeting the EPA cleanup standards they also provided an ecological asset for the community. The surrounding countryside is a mix of hardwood forests, pine plantations, dunes and grasslands, homes, summer cottages, beaches and towns, in the Lake Michigan basin. Rather than leave a brownfield in its wake, a few individuals at Oxy spearheaded the transformation of the former chemical manufacturing site into a thriving prairie, savannah, woodland, and wetland habitat. The restoration plans included amending soils, creating wetlands, and planting native grasses, shrubs, and trees as well as long-term stewardship activities and the creation of recreational opportunities.
Atlas Tack Superfund Site, Massachusetts
Atlas after
Atlas Site After
Before and after photographs of the Atlas Tack Superfund Site in Massachusetts, where the remedy resulted in preservation of wetland sediment and created a functioning wetland.
Photographs courtesy of Elaine Stanley, EPA Region 1.
Atlas before
Atlas Site Before
The Atlas Tack Superfund site is a former manufacturing facility where the ground water was contaminated with cyanide and toluene, and the soil was contaminated with volatile organic compounds, heavy metals, pesticides, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs). Cleanup activities at the site focused on the removal of buildings, contaminated soil, and sediment. The cleanup preserved as much of the wetland sediment as possible and provided the necessary mix of fresh and salt water sources to create a functioning wetland, in addition to protecting human health and the environment.

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Bunker Hill Superfund Site (West Page Swamp Wetland Restoration Project), Idaho
Bunker Hill Superfund Site in Idaho after
Bunker Hill Site After
Before and after photographs of the Bunker Hill Superfund Site in Idaho, where contamination was left on-site and capped with biolsolids compost and wood ash. A long-term Operations & Maintenace plan was established to ensure that attractive nuisance issues did not exist.
Photographs courtesy of Dr. Sally Brown, University of Washington.
Bunker Hill Superfund Site in Idaho before
Bunker Hill Site Before
The West Page Swamp was once used as a tailings repository for a mill that processed zinc and lead ore. The soil material consisted of highly contaminated lead and zinc tailings, materials so toxic that the swamp showed no evidence of ecosystem function. Remediation included constructing a cap over the soil. The cap consisted of biosolids, compost and wood ash. This cap was sufficient to reduce both accessibility and bioavailability of the underlying tailings and restore ecosystem function, characteristic of a naturally occurring wetland to the site. The wetland is now fully functioning and a wildlife habitat.

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California Gulch Superfund Site in Colorado
Atlas after
California Gulch Site After
Before and after photographs of the California Gulch Superfund Site in Colorado where site managers used high rates of lime amendment to neutralize the acidity of the mine tailings and applied municipal biosolids directly into the tailings along the Upper Arkansas River.
Photographs courtesy of Michael Holmes, EPA Region 8.
Atlas before
California Gulch Site Before
An excellent example of remediation to reuse is the California Gulch Superfund site in Leadville, CO. Leadville was once one of the richest mining districts in the world. Silver, gold, copper, zinc, manganese and lead sustained the area's mining and smelting for more than 140 years. Mining operations ceased and the area?s soil, surface water, and sediments were heavily contaminated with heavy metals. As part of the remedy, biosolids and lime were applied directly to the tailings along the Upper Arkansas River which led to habitat revitalization over the last 20 years (when remediation began). Due to the heavy metal pollution, trout could not survive in the river. Today, trout are thriving for up to 10 years due to this habitat revitalization and improved water quality. Earlier in 2014, the Colorado Parks and Wildlife Commission announced the Upper Arkansas River as the newest addition to their statewide list of Gold Medal Trout Waters. This award is given to a body of water that consistently supports a minimum of trout stock of 60 pounds per acre and minimum average of 12 quality trout (14 inch length) per acre. EPA is proud to have played a role with the Leadville community to revitalize this area to now support vegetation and wildlife, and agriculture and recreational uses such as hiking, fishing, and bicycling.

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Army Creek Landfill site in Delaware
Army Creek Landfill site After
Army Creek Landfill site After
Before and after photographs of the Army Creek Landfill site in Delaware. Site managers used a protective cap and native vegetation to convert a municipal and industrial waste landfill that had been in operation for nine years into wetlands and wildlife habitat.
Photographs courtesy of U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
Army Creek Landfill site Before
Army Creek Landfill site Before
The Army Creek Landfill site is a 47 acre abandoned sand and gravel quarry that was used as a municipal and industrial waste landfill for over nine years. The soil and groundwater were contaminated with chromium, mercury, and volatile organic compounds. Remediation activities at the site included a multi-layer protective cover and a groundwater treatment system. In addition, native vegetation was planted to create a bird and wildlife habitat, and wetlands were created to help prevent flooding and create additional habitat.

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Coal Mine Spoil Site in Fulton County, Illinois
Coal Mine Spoil site After
Coal Mine Spoil site After
Before and after photographs of the coal mine spoil area in Fulton County, Illinois where anaerobically digested municipal biosolids were directly applied over a 30 plus year period.
Photographs courtesy Guanglong Tian, Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago (WRD).
Illinois Coal Mine Spoil Site Before
Coal Mine Spoil Site Before
While once fertile farm land, a 6,000 hectare area was strip mined for its coal. The mine spoils consisted primarily of unconsolidated overburden soils and consolidated materials such as shale or sandstone bedrock. In 1972 the WRD divided the land into two large parcels according to spoil type plus control areas. At first liquid biosolids (4% solids) were applied directly to the mine spoils. Later the solids content was increased to 60 to 70%. Over time the net carbon (C) sequestration in the soil increased to 1.73 (0.54-3.05) Mg C ha-1 yr-1 in biosolids-amended fields as compared with -0.07 to 0.17 Mg C ha-1 yr-1 in fertilizer controls. The area has been returned to fertile agricultural land and is classified as a C-sink soil as opposed the normal Midwest Corn Belt soils' C-neutral classification.

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JEB Little Creek - Fort Story, Virginia Beach, Virginia
JEB Little Creek site After
JEB Little Creek site After
Before and after pictures of a portion of the site which was re-vegetated using native grass species. This native vegetation has thrived after two years of growth.
Photographs appear in "JEB Little Creek - Fort Story, Virginia Beach, Virginia FFRRO Case Study" factsheet.
JEB Little Creek Site Before
JEB Little Creek Site Before
Past disposal practices at the Joint Expeditionary Base (JEB) Little Creek - Fort Story site along the Chesapeake Bay area in Virginia Beach, Virginia, left a tidal wetlands area filled with debris, contaminated soil, and sediment. After waste materials were excavated, the landfill was converted to a tidal wetland. Two connecting channels were constructed to allow tidal inundation of the site from Little Creek Cove. Plants were selected and planted along designated elevations to establish native tidal wetland vegetation for habitat, using the neighboring marsh as a reference wetland.

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Bunker Hill Mining and Metallurgical Complex (OU2 and 3), Idaho
Bunker Hill Mining and Metallurgical Complex After
EPA's remedial action established nearly 400 acres of clean waterfowl feeding habitat at the Bunker Hill Mining and Metallurgical Complex, Idaho
Bunker Hill Mining and Metallurgical Complex Before
Remediated and restored habitat on the Bunker Hill site attracts some of the highest levels of waterfowl usage, feeding and diversity in the Coeur d'Alene River Basin.
The hillsides within the Bunker Hill Box non-populated areas (OU2) are returning to a coniferous forest ecosystem. The transformation is the result of efforts to reduce pollution of the South Fork of the Coeur d'Alene River by controlling erosion and increasing soil development. Adaptive management during the cleanup and ecological revitalization process allowed for flexible decision-making.

At the site's OU3 about 25 miles west of OU2 and downstream along the Coeur d'Alene River, a private, contaminated agricultural property was converted to healthy wetland habitat. Lead-contaminated soil and sediment throughout the lower river floodplains adversely affected wildlife. EPA's 2002 Superfund cleanup plan called for remediation of soil, sediment and water contaminated with toxic levels of heavy metals to create habitats capable of supporting a functional ecosystem and prevent ingestion and dermal contact by ecological receptors. Settlement money funded EPA's remedial action, which established nearly 400 acres of clean waterfowl feeding habitat. Additional restoration work by the Natural Resource Trustees followed. Use of buckwheat and other native herbaceous plants helped create an attractive habitat for wildlife and pollinators. Monitoring by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service shows that the remediated and restored habitat attracts some of the highest levels of waterfowl usage, waterfowl feeding and waterfowl diversity in the Coeur d'Alene River Basin. Blood lead data suggest that waterfowl using the conservation easement are experiencing reduced exposures to lead. This project is the first of its kind in the Coeur d'Alene River Basin, and is an important step in addressing serious ecological contamination issues in the basin.

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