DuPont acquires 153 acres in Waynesboro, Virginia as a manufacturing site for Rayon, the world’s first synthetic fiber. Mercury was used in Rayon production.
Despite the depression era, demand for Rayon increases and the DuPont plant expands.
Rayon production continues, but mercury is no longer used.
DuPont discovers mercury in soil on the plant site during construction activities and initiates studies to determine potential river impacts, marking the first collaborative effort between DuPont, regulatory agencies, academia and stakeholders.
The Virginia Department of Health institutes a fish consumption ban from Waynesboro to Front Royal that includes the South River, South Fork Shenandoah River, and part of the Shenandoah River.
The fish consumption ban is replaced by a consumption advisory.
Results of an evaluation predict a natural decline in fish tissue mercury. Natural recovery is expected, and monitoring is selected as the remedy.
DuPont funds a 100-year monitoring program for fish, water, soil, and sediment in the South River and South Fork Shenandoah River.
Various state agencies begin to work together to implement the monitoring program. Fish tissue data are collected to verify that the consumption advisories are appropriate.
The Virginia Department of Environmental Quality takes the lead in implementing the monitoring program.
An evaluation of the monitoring program data indicates that fish tissue mercury levels are not declining as predicted.
The Virginia Department of Environmental Quality and DuPont agree to the concept of a South River Science Team, a collaborative effort to evaluate the mercury situation.
The South River Science Team holds its first meeting. Representatives from DuPont, the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality, the Virginia Department of Health, and the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (now the Department of Wildlife Conservation) participated in the inaugural meeting.
The South River Science Team expands to include citizens’ groups, environmental groups and academic experts.
DuPont, in coordination with the South River Science Team, begins a six-year ecological study of the South River and South Fork Shenandoah River.
The South River Science Team opens an information center and a field office on Main Street in downtown Waynesboro.
Evidence indicates that some of the mercury released long ago bound to soil particles in the river and then ended up being deposited on riverbanks along the South River. Today, when this riverbank soil erodes, mercury goes back into the river with it.
The South River Science Team tests a remediation approach. An eroding riverbank in the City of Waynesboro (Pilot Bank) is stabilized to measure the changes, if any, that might occur when riverbank erosion is reduced or stopped.
Results from the Pilot Bank show that the stabilization approach is successful in controlling mercury releases to the river. As a result, riverbank stabilization is considered a feasible remediation option.
DuPont, with input from a South River Science Team Task Team, submits a remediation proposal that addresses select eroding riverbanks that have been identified as the major potential continuing source of mercury to the rivers.
DuPont collects a variety of samples to establish baseline conditions in the South River and South Fork Shenandoah River, enabling the South River Science Team to compare conditions in the rivers before, during and after remediation.
As part of its first phase of work, DuPont begins remediating and restoring additional riverbanks with elevated soil mercury levels.
The Constitution Park riverbank remediation and restoration are complete.
An approximately $50 million settlement is reached between DuPont and the state and federal government to resolve claims stemming from mercury releases from the former DuPont Waynesboro plant.
The remediation of riverbanks at City Shops and Allied Ready Mix is complete.
The remediation and restoration of riverbanks near Shiloh Baptist Church are complete.
The in-person South River Watershed Summit is canceled because of the pandemic. With input from the Remediation Advisory Panel, the planning team begins creating outreach videos until large gatherings can resume.
The remediation and restoration of riverbanks at North Park are conducted in accordance with pandemic health and safety protocols. The work is completed on time and safely.
The first four installments of the video series South River Currents are shared with the community. With remediation complete, the focus shifts from mercury cleanup to watershed health.
The South River Watershed Coalition is formed to inspire and facilitate collective and individual action to protect our watershed.