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Official DEQ news releases.

List administrator(s): Bill Hayden, Jennifer Underwood, Irina Calos, John Tragesser

Railroad ties cleared from Radford site

January 26, 2012

Contact: Bill Hayden
(804) 698-4447

Robin C. Chapman
Norfolk Southern
(757) 629-2713

RICHMOND, VA. – The cleanup of almost 2 million railroad ties from a site in Radford brings to an end a multi-year effort to clear the former industrial location and eliminate a potential environmental concern. Norfolk Southern Railway Co. completed removal of the ties earlier this month, delivering on a long-standing offer to the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality to transport the ties for free if a suitable disposal site could be found.

Norfolk Southern’s work, which took about five months, means that 7 acres of industrial property with rail service and utilities are now available for revitalization.

“Norfolk Southern deserves a great deal of credit for this project,” DEQ Director David K. Paylor said. “They willingly removed these old railroad ties at their own expense, and the result is a new opportunity for productive use of industrial property in Radford. This effort is a clear demonstration of their commitment to stewardship.”

The ties date to the 1980s, when they were sold and stockpiled for reuse on a private site known as the Hammond property. The owner eventually declared bankruptcy, leaving the property abandoned and the ties posing a fire hazard and other environmental concerns. Three years ago, DEQ’s Brownfields Program, with support from the DEQ regional office in Roanoke, began researching alternatives to traditional disposal by working with private companies to remove the ties.

In early 2011, in response to DEQ’s ongoing efforts to get the site cleaned up, Norfolk Southern proposed a solution that involved transporting the ties via rail to approved disposal facilities. DEQ and Norfolk Southern signed an agreement in July to begin the voluntary removal of the ties. Most of the material went to a permitted facility in Pennsylvania that specializes in incineration of treated wood to create energy.

From: Bill Hayden

Sent: January 26, 2012 at 10:18 am

Virginia issues 2010 recycling report

November 9, 2010

Contact: Bill Hayden
(804) 698-4447

RICHMOND, VA. – The Department of Environmental Quality has issued its annual report for 2010 on recycling by Virginia localities, and for the first time since the adoption of the state’s recycling mandate in 1989, the Commonwealth’s recycling rate has surpassed 40 percent.

Using data from the recycling rate reports submitted by Virginia’s 71 solid waste planning units (either a local government or a regional authority), DEQ reports that Virginia recycled 40.5 percent of its municipal and other solid wastes in 2010. The report quantifies the continuing growth of recycling in the Commonwealth and shows an increase over the 2009 recycling rate of 38.6 percent.

“This significant improvement reflects the ongoing support by Virginians for recycling in their communities,” DEQ Director David K. Paylor said.

“Recycling is one of the easiest ways for all Virginians to make a difference in conserving the environment and landfill space,” Virginia Natural Resources Secretary Doug Domenech said. “I urge everyone to think before they throw things into the trash. There is really no reason to bury so much of our trash in the ground.”

One of the main reasons for the increase is the adoption in more localities of “single stream” collection methods for recyclable goods. This means that more residents are allowed to place all of their recyclables in a single bin without sorting into bottles, cans, paper, etc. All of the separation into marketable grades and types of material happens at the processing center.

Each planning unit is required to achieve a minimum 25 percent recycling rate – unless its population density is less than 100 people per square mile, or its unemployment rate is 50 percent or more above the statewide unemployment average. Localities meeting these criteria are required to achieve a minimum 15 percent recycling rate.

The report is available on the DEQ website at It provides an overview of the materials recycled, the amount of waste disposed, and a listing of the recycling rate reported by each solid waste planning unit for 2010.

From: Bill Hayden

Sent: November 09, 2011 at 11:48 am

Virginia issues solid waste report for 2010

June 13, 2011

Contact: Bill Hayden
(804) 698-4447

RICHMOND, VA. -- The Department of Environmental Quality released its annual report today on solid waste management in Virginia. The report includes the amounts of solid waste managed in Virginia in 2010, and the amounts and sources of solid waste generated outside the Commonwealth.

The total amount of solid waste received at Virginia facilities during 2010 increased by about 146,000 tons (0.7 percent) from 2009. Solid waste includes municipal solid waste, construction and demolition debris, vegetative and yard waste, and other types of waste. The total amount of solid waste from outside Virginia increased by about 200,000 tons (3.7 percent) to about 5.5 million tons. The total amount from within Virginia remained about the same at 14.2 million tons.

Other findings of the report include:

• Of the nearly 19.7 million tons of solid waste reported in 2010, approximately 12.9 million tons (65.6 percent) were municipal solid waste, which is trash from households and businesses.
• The total amount of municipal solid waste generated outside Virginia was approximately 4 million tons, a decrease of about 250,000 tons (5.9 percent). Maryland, New York, Washington, D.C., North Carolina and New Jersey accounted for 97.5 percent of all waste received from out-of-state sources.
• Of the total solid waste reported in 2010, about 3.2 million tons (16.5 percent) were construction and demolition debris.
• Of the total solid waste managed in Virginia in 2010, about 12.4 million tons (76.8 percent) were disposed of in landfills, and about 2 million tons (12.6 percent) were incinerated. The rest was managed by other means, including mulching and recycling.

The full solid waste report is available on the DEQ website at

From: Bill Hayden

Sent: June 13, 2011 at 12:05 pm

"No-discharge zones" under development on Northern Neck

June 7, 2011

Contact: Bill Hayden
(804) 698-4447

RICHMOND, VA. – Shellfish harvest restrictions due to fecal bacterial contamination are common throughout Virginia’s tidal Chesapeake Bay tributaries. Studies used to restore water quality, known as “total maximum daily loads,” document human sources that may include failing septic systems and overboard sewage discharge from boats. The pollution reduction plans associated with TMDLs also address land-based sources of bacteria.

To address the impact of boats, the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality has been directed by the General Assembly to seek federal designation of the Commonwealth’s Bay tributaries as “no-discharge zones.” This designation prohibits the overboard discharge of sewage, whether treated or untreated, and includes a strong public awareness program about the environmental impact of boat waste.

No-discharge zones also promote the use of pump-out facilities and dump stations as alternatives to discharging waste. The certification of marine sanitation devices, which are used to treat and/or hold sewage on vessels, is targeted to meet Virginia’s water quality standard for recreation. It does not specifically protect the sensitive shellfish growing areas.

Virginia already has tidal no-discharge zones in the Lynnhaven River in Virginia Beach, and in Broad Creek, Jackson Creek and Fishing Bay in Middlesex County. In the Lynnhaven River, one marina reported that pump-outs nearly doubled concurrently with no-discharge zone designation, from 154 in 2006 to 299 in 2007. Along with other measures, establishment of this zone led to the re-opening of 1,462 acres of condemned shellfish growing areas, some closed since the 1930s, to commercial harvest.

Current efforts to expand no-discharge zones are focusing on Bay tributaries bordering Virginia’s Northern Neck. DEQ is proposing no-discharge zones for Richmond, Lancaster, Northumberland and Westmoreland counties. The four-county proposal will be sent to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for review by July 2011.

DEQ and the Northern Neck Planning District Commission will host a public meeting to provide a summary of the draft federal no-discharge zone application for selected water bodies in Westmoreland County, including Bonum, Jackson, and Gardner creeks; Ragged Point, Lower Machodoc (and selected tributaries), Nomini (and selected tributaries), and Mattox creeks (and tributaries); Monroe Bay and Rosier Creek, in addition to a portion of one water body in King George County (Rosier Creek).

The meeting will be held June 14, 2011, at 6 p.m. in the A.T. Johnson Alumni Museum, 18849 Kings Highway, Montross, VA 22520. DEQ will accept public comments on the application June 15 through July 15, 2011.

DEQ also is accepting public comments for Northumberland County’s application. The comment period for the Northumberland County application ends June 30, 2011.

For more information see or contact Liz McKercher, DEQ watershed coordinator, at or (804) 698-4291.

From: Bill Hayden

Sent: June 07, 2011 at 11:05 am

Community leaders pick up their spades for 'Plant Eastern Shore Natives' campaign

April 25, 2011

Contact: Bill Hayden
(804) 698-4447

RICHMOND, VA. – This spring the Plant ES Natives campaign is branching out as “community leaders” across the Eastern Shore help spread the message that Eastern Shore native plants are “Shore Beautiful!”

In March, the Plant ES Natives campaign held its first community leader training at Eastern Shore Community College. Community leaders are those who will assist the campaign in expanding its reach into the broader Shore community through presentations, exhibits and public events. Leaders also will serve as liaisons with local garden centers, including lending a hand in tagging native plants, and will share the word of natives for sale at the centers.

After completing their training, the newly certified community leaders received special lapel pins recognizing their status. They also received copies of the free guide to Eastern Shore native plants produced by the campaign, “Native Plants of Accomack and Northampton,” to distribute within their communities.

The Plant ES Natives campaign is a multi-year, multi-partner effort launched in April 2009 with funding from the Virginia Coastal Zone Management Program at the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality. The community leader program is the latest step in moving this community-based initiative forward.

In addition to providing the colorful new native plant guide, the campaign is running radio ads on WERS through the end of May urging residents to look for the “Plant ES Natives” plant tag on their next visit to an Accomack or Northampton county garden center. Participating garden centers have received banners advertising that they sell Eastern Shore native plants.

To showcase the beauty of Eastern Shore native plants, the campaign is installing and certifying demonstration gardens. Gardens are open to the public in Wachapreague, Willis Wharf, Chincoteague, Oyster, Kiptopeke State Park and the Eastern Shore of Virginia National Wildlife Refuge. Another is in progress at the new medical health center in Onley. Information about these gardens and the native plants used is available on the campaign’s website. The campaign also plans to offer a self-guided tour of the sites this fall as part of a “Plant ES Natives Celebration Day.”

Eastern Shore native plants are encouraged because they have been part of the Shore’s local ecology since before John Smith’s landing and they are adapted to the Shore’s local soils and climate conditions, resulting in many benefits to the region, its residents and migratory birds.

Eastern Shore native plants:

• Require less watering and fertilizing than non-natives and are less susceptible to drought conditions. Less watering means conserving potable water supplies for non-watering uses.
• Are often more resistant to insects and disease and thus less likely to need pesticides that may leach into water supplies or run off into shellfish aquaculture farms.
• Provide critical habitat and food for the millions of migratory birds that rely on Virginia’s Eastern Shore as a rest stop each spring and fall.
• Help preserve the diversity, beauty and function of the shore’s natural ecosystems.

Additional community leader training sessions will be offered for residential gardeners interested in helping with the campaign. To learn more about the campaign and how these native plants are “Shore Beautiful,” visit the DEQ website at Or contact Virginia Witmer, the campaign’s coordinator at the Virginia Coastal Zone Management Program at (804) 698-4320,, or Laura McKay, program manager for the Virginia Coastal Zone Management Program at (804) 698-4323, The campaign also is on Facebook.

From: Bill Hayden

Sent: April 25, 2011 at 12:47 pm