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February 20, 2024

Portsmouth Naval Shipyard is now off the EPA's Superfund priority list

aerial of industrial buildings on island COURTESY / U.S. NAVY An aerial view of Portsmouth Naval Shipyard, which is in Kittery, on Seavey Island in the Piscataqua River.

After 30 years of cleanup at the Kittery facility, Portsmouth Naval Shipyard has been removed from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s national priorities list of contaminated Superfund sites.

Removal of contaminated soil, sediment and other hazardous material at the site is complete, and no further remediation is required, the agency announced Friday. 

Operation and maintenance, land use control and monitoring activities will continue at the site as needed. The Navy will also continue to conduct follow-up reviews every five years and submit the findings to the EPA to ensure the cleanup measures continue protecting the environment.

The shipyard was added to the Superfund list in 1994, after decades of contamination at the site. The pollution had resulted from the yard's shipbuilding and submarine repair work, as well as landfilling, spills and leaks from industrial operations, storage of batteries and other activities.

The federal Superfund program, established by Congress in 1980, investigates and cleans up the country's most complex, uncontrolled or abandoned hazardous waste sites, which the EPA attempts to return to productive use. Across New England, there are currently more than 120 Superfund sites.

"Portsmouth Naval Shipyard performs an incredible service to our country in maintaining and upgrading the Navy's submarine fleet while being a critical pillar to southern Maine's economy,” said U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree, D-Maine 1st District.

“After nearly 30 years of research, assessment, and cleanup activities, today's announcement from EPA is exciting and welcome news for the shipyard's workers, surrounding communities, and importantly — for the environment.”

About PNSY

The shipyard was established as a U.S. government facility in 1800 on Seavey Island in the Piscataqua River, at the mouth of Portsmouth Harbor between Kittery and Portsmouth, N.H. 

The first government-built submarine was designed and constructed in Kittery during World War I, and many have been designed, constructed and repaired at the facility since 1917. 

Today, Portsmouth Naval Shipyard occupies 280 acres and employs over 7,000 civilians and 200 active-duty military personnel. The facility's primary mission is the conversion, overhaul and repair of submarines for the U.S. Navy.

The yard generated an economic impact of nearly $1.5 billion throughout the region in 2022.

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