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ATSDR Press Room

Public Health Assessment on the Navy Weapons Station Yorktown, Cheatham Annex site, Williamsburg, Va

Williamsburg County, Williamsburg, Virginia

Monday, July 26, 2004

The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR), a public health agency of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, has issued for public review and comment through August 15 a public health assessment of the Navy Weapons Station Yorktown, Cheatham Annex site, in Williamsburg, Va.

Cheatham Annex has been used for bulk storage and overseas shipping. During World War I, much of what later became Cheatham Annex was used for the Penniman Shell Loading Plant and as an ordnance depot. Records from this era are incomplete and it is not known how some of the ordnance material was decommissioned and disposed. Therefore, explosive materials or shells could still be buried in this area, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency continues to search for information about past operations and disposal practices. However, none of the U.S. Navy or U.S. Environmental Protection Agency investigations conducted to date have identified ordnance that could pose an explosion hazard.

ATSDR reviewed available information about the historical and current use of the site, environmental sampling and remedial actions. The public health assessment finds that although contaminants have been identified in many on-base locations, on-base residents or visitors and the neighboring community are not exposed to contaminants from any of these sites at levels that could cause adverse health effects.

ATSDR did identify some potential past exposures that cannot be completely evaluated because of insufficient data. These include:

  • past exposure to air emissions
  • past exposure to drinking water
  • past exposure to fish in Penniman Lake and Youth Pond

ATSDR identified two areas with physical hazards and recommends the Navy take prompt measures to prevent people from coming into contact with these possible safety hazards:

  1. Removal of buried medical waste that had washed from the fenced-in part of Cheatham Annex into an adjacent pond and then into Youth Pond should be completed.
  2. Some rental cabins are located near a short cliff overlooking the York River and sites where materials from the Penniman era were buried. To prevent children from slipping under a damaged fence, ATSDR recommends that the fence be repaired as soon as possible.

The health assessment may be reviewed through August 15 at these five repositories:

Naval Weapons Station Yorktown Library Newport News City Public Library
Building 705 Grissom Branch
Naval Weapons Station 366 DeShazor Drive
Yorktown, Va. Newport News, Va.

The York County Public Library Gloucester Public Library
8500 George Washington Highway 367 Main St.
Yorktown, Va. Gloucester, Va.

Jamestown-Williamsburg Public Library
515 Scotland St.
Williamsburg, Va.

Comments on the public health assessment must be made in writing. Mail comments to
Chief, Program Evaluation, Records and Information Services Branch
1600 Clifton Road, N.E. (MS E-60)
Atlanta, GA 30333

Comments received during the public comment period will be logged in to the ATSDR administrative record for this health assessment. Comments received, without the names of individuals who submitted them, and ATSDR responses to the comments will appear in an appendix to the final public health assessment. Names of those who submit comments, however, are subject to release for requests made under the U.S. Freedom of Information Act.

For more information, community members can contact Health Assessor Sue Neurath or Health Communications Specialist Januett Smith-George, toll-free, at 1-888-422-8737. Regional Representative Tom Stukas also can be contacted at 215-814-3142. Callers should refer to the Navy Weapons Station Yorktown, Cheatham Annex, site in Williamsburg, Va.

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Related News Releases For Williamsburg County, Williamsburg, Virginia


ATSDR Finds Exposure to Contaminants at Naval Weapons Station Yorktown, Cheatham Annex, Will Not Cause Adverse Health Effects
Release Date: Wednesday, September 22, 2004
On-base residents and visitors at Naval Weapons Station Yorktown, Cheatham Annex (CAX), in Williamsburg, Va., and residents of the neighboring community are not exposed to contaminants from on-base sites at levels that could cause adverse health effects, according to a report released by the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR).

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