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Updated: August 18, 2023

EPA wants to remove Portsmouth Naval Shipyard from Superfund list

aerial of shipyard and harbor Courtesy / U.S. NAVY An aerial view of the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard in Kittery. Cleanup of areas at the shipyard, added to the Superfund list in 1994, have been deemed complete.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has proposed removing Portsmouth Naval Shipyard, in Kittery, from the National Priorities List of cleanup sites, commonly referred to as Superfund.

The shipyard was added to the Superfund list in 1994 after decades of contamination, but the EPA has determined that no further remedial action is required, according to a news release. 

Contamination at PNS had resulted from shipbuilding and submarine repair work, landfill operations, spills and leaks from industrial operations and piping, storage of batteries and other materials, filling of land, and outfalls to the river. 

Seven areas on and around the shipyard were identified for investigation related to contamination detected in groundwater, soils, and sediments. The contaminants included including polychlorinated biphenyls, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, metals and benzene. 

Extensive cleanup work was done to address the contamination. The state of Maine has reviewed the status of the site and agreed with its proposed removal from the Superfund list, according to the release.

The EPA said that long-term stewardship will continue in order to ensure future land use is consistent with the remediation. The agency will continue to assess the work performed at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard Superfund Site every five years to ensure the remediation continues to protect human health and the environment, as required by the Superfund law. A proposed or final deletion does not prevent future actions under the law.

The agency will accept public comments on the proposed deletion until Sept. 15. Click here for more information.


Portsmouth Naval Shipyard covers 278 acres on Seavey Island in the Piscataqua River, at the mouth of Portsmouth Harbor between Kittery and Portsmouth, N.H. 

Shipbuilding activities in Portsmouth Harbor date back to 1690. The Portsmouth Naval Shipyard was established as a government facility in 1800, and is the second-oldest among the Navy's four yards. (Norfolk Naval Shipyard, in Virginia, is six years older.) The first government-built submarine was designed and constructed in Kittery during World War I, and a large number of submarines have been designed, constructed and repaired at the facility since 1917. 

Today, the shipyard employs 7,300 civilians and hundreds of active-duty military personnel with duties of converting, overhauling and repairing submarines for the Navy.

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