DNREC receives EPA’s PISCES award; other milestones announced at the former NVF site in Yorklyn

DOVER – As revitalization continues at the former NVF facility in Yorklyn, DNREC’s new water quality project at the site has been recognized as an Exceptional Project by the EPA, one of five such projects nationwide, for its excellence and innovation in Clean Water Infrastructure, winning the coveted PISCES award. Two DNREC Divisions, Waste & Hazardous Substances, and Parks & Recreation, collaborated to remediate the zinc-contaminated site at the former factory. Following the cleanup, a created, remediated two-acre wetland is nearly complete, in addition to four other wetlands that will soon be constructed in the vicinity.

In addition, three new trails at the former NVF site have been completed: the Yorklyn Bridge Trail, the Oversee Trail, and the “CCArts Trail” (yet to be officially named). Under construction now is a bridge that will connect the Yorklyn Bridge trail to Benge Road and the Auburn Heights Mansion.

The PISCES award recognizes the importance of the new wetland to mitigate flooding and improve water quality in the Red Clay Creek area, the support of the economic redevelopment of the Yorklyn Fiber Mills District, and the innovative use of funding for the project.

PISCES Award Presentation
Pictured left to right: Matthew Chesser, DNREC administrator of preservation planning; DNREC Secretary Shawn M. Garvin; EPA Region 3 Administrator Cosmo Servidio; Governor John Carney; John Cargill, DNREC environmental scientist, Site Investigation and Restoration Section; State Senator Gregory F. Lavelle; Marjorie Crofts, director, DNREC Division of Waste & Hazardous Substances, and New Castle Councilwoman Janet Kilpatrick.

“EPA is proud to have selected this clean water project as one of five rated exceptional in the nation,” said EPA Regional Administrator Cosmo Servidio. “The work at the NVF site will continue to improve water quality in the creek, and enhance the quality of life for residents by protecting this vulnerable area from flooding, and making way for future economic development. It’s an excellent example of the power of partnerships between EPA and the states and communities we serve.”

“We are proud that DNREC has been recognized by EPA with the PISCES award,” said Governor John Carney. “Not only does this project clean up the environment, but it also will support redevelopment. This whole area was once a polluted brownfield site, and because of DNREC’s work, the Yorklyn Fiber Mills District is better equipped to attract more businesses, create jobs, and help strengthen our economy.”

The EPA award acknowledges excellence and innovation within the Clean Water State Revolving Fund (CWSRF). The CWSRF is a federal-state partnership that provides communities with a permanent, independent source of low-cost financing for a wide range of water quality infrastructure projects. The EPA’s PISCES (Performance and Innovation in the SRF Creating Environmental Success) award celebrates innovation demonstrated by Delaware’s CWSRF programs and assistance recipients.

“Whether at a federal, state, or local level, we should always be striving to get better results for less money, and the Yorklyn project shows that we can, especially when we are working together,” said Senator Tom Carper, who serves as the top Democrat on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. “This is an example of exactly the kind of work that EPA should be partnering with states to complete in a more timely and efficient manner. Not only do cleanups of contaminated sites reduce public health risks, they also help to revitalize communities and spur economic development in the area. Proud to see that, once again, Delaware is leading by example and finding ways to most effectively utilize taxpayer dollars.”

“We are honored to receive the PISCES award,” said DNREC Secretary Shawn M. Garvin. “This new wetland is the centerpiece of the site, which will help improve water quality, mitigate flooding, create habitat, and support the economic redevelopment of the Yorklyn area. Three new trails, and others that are under construction, are drawing more and more people to this vibrant new development – commercial, residential and recreational – and turning Yorklyn into a major destination on the Delaware map.”

In total, $3.3 million in CWSRF loan financing was provided to DNREC’s Division of Waste & Hazardous Substances to remove zinc-contaminated soils and create the two-acre wetland by replacing industrial-contaminated soils with clean fill material and topsoil, Another $1 million CWSRF Water Quality Improvement Loan was provided to DNREC’s Division of Parks & Recreation to create the four additional wetlands.

DNREC’s Environmental Finance Office used several innovative financing tools to facilitate project funding. Funding to provide repayment of the CWSRF loans was secured by the state’s Hazardous Substances Cleanup Act and the Division of Parks & Recreation.

The soil remediation efforts at the NVF site included the removal and disposal of approximately 170 tons (340,000 pounds) of zinc and more than 200 pounds of hazardous lead from the soil during a seven-month period beginning in December 2016. A groundwater zinc recovery and treatment system has also been in operation at the site since 2008. Converting the excavation into a wetland that provides flood water storage capacity and other wetland benefits is necessary in the historically flood-prone Red Clay Creek Valley. For perspective, using average recovery rates of zinc from the existing treatment system, it would have taken nearly 40 years to remove the same mass of contaminants from groundwater, at an estimated cost of $14 million. Utilizing the $3.3 million CWSRF loan enabled DNREC to perform necessary remediation in the short term, thus saving taxpayers a projected amount of $10.7 million in the long term.

Using funds for contaminated site remediation has not been done in Delaware before, and is just one of many unique and innovative solutions that the project team employed to complete the work. Substantial savings to Delaware taxpayers will result, and further redevelopment will occur at an accelerated pace. Future redevelopment at the site is designed to provide decades of increased economic value and will be a unique destination to visit and explore in historic Yorklyn.

Media Contact: Beth Shockley, DNREC Public Affairs, 302-739-9902.

Progress on revitalization of former NVF site in Yorklyn to be showcased during Yorklyn Day festival

YORKLYN – Revitalization milestones will be on display from 11 a.m. – 5 p.m. Sunday, June 4, during the first Yorklyn Day festival at the former NVF manufacturing site in Yorklyn. The event will highlight site remediation – including toxics removal and flood mitigation – along with new trails and amenities, and plans for continued redevelopment.

“We are making tremendous progress in transforming Yorklyn into a residential, commercial, conservation and recreation area, while also removing a century of contamination,” said DNREC Secretary Shawn M. Garvin. “We are turning the area into a revitalized, vibrant hub of activity that retains its historic character and provides the kinds of amenities that will help drive economic growth while improving the quality of life for residents and visitors alike.”

  • Already completed is the new Yorklyn Bridge Trail, located in the bullseye of the revitalization effort. It will surround a new flood mitigation wetland, which is slated to begin construction later this summer.
  • The Yorklyn Bridge Trail now also connects to the CC Arts/Snuff Mill Trail, which also will be open to the public on Yorklyn Day. The trail connects the former NVF site with the historic Garrett Snuff Mills and the Center for Creative Arts. The centerpiece of the trail is the restored foundation of one of the Snuff Mills, dating back to the 1800s.
  • In addition, the Oversee Trail, with beautiful, scenic views, is planned to be open in the next several days.
  • Coming soon, a connection between the Yorklyn Bridge Trail and the Auburn Heights Trail loop, the first trail section completed in 2012, will be under construction in late summer 2017. This connection will include a renovated historic bridge behind the former Marshall Brothers Paper Mill on Benge Road.

What is not readily seen, but critical in the revitalization effort is the environmental remediation that continues. The former NVF manufacturing facilities in the area of Red Clay Creek are undergoing a massive environmental cleanup of nearly a century of historic contamination in soil, groundwater, sediment and surface water. In the process of remediating harmful contaminants from soils, a series of wetlands and flood mitigation measures will be created to reduce severe flooding that has resulted in significant economic impacts to the valley. In addition, restoration of the cross-stream that flowed through the facility will improve water quality and help to protect fish and other organisms in the Red Clay Creek.

DNREC’s Division of Waste & Hazardous Substances’ Site Investigation and Restoration Section (SIRS) is leading the remediation of the Brownfield site, including removal, treatment and disposal of hazardous materials from inside demolished buildings, removal and disposal of soil containing hazardous levels of zinc and lead, groundwater recovery and treatment, and monitoring of Red Clay Creek surface water and sediments. The private property owner has funded asbestos removal and building demolition. To date, more than 200 tons of contaminated materials have been removed from the interior of demolished buildings.

During the recent soil removal effort dubbed the “Big Dig,” more than 325,000 pounds (over 162 tons) of zinc have been removed from soils beneath the former manufacturing facility that now won’t contaminate the Red Clay Creek. Removing the zinc-contaminated soil eliminates the source of contamination to groundwater, and will thus minimize the time needed to operate the groundwater zinc recovery/treatment system. On average the treatment system recovers 600-700 pounds of zinc per month from the groundwater beneath the site. Since 2008, approximately 75,000 pounds of zinc has been recovered from groundwater and been kept from discharging to Red Clay Creek.

The partnership includes private developers, neighboring organizations and DNREC’s Divisions of Parks & Recreation, Waste & Hazardous Substances, Watershed Stewardship and Water. Partners include the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the EPA, local, state and federal legislators, business developers and strong support from neighboring property owners, as well as conservation and recreational organizations in the Yorklyn area. The collaboration is one of the most inventive undertaken in Delaware and serves as a national model for other similar projects.

To date, almost $8 million dollars of state funding has been spent to remediate the site, in addition to $1.6 million from FEMA for property acquisition, more than $800,000 in private loans from EPA and State HSCA funds to assist in asbestos removal and building demolition, and additional private funding for building demolition and restoration of an onsite office building.

Vol. 47, No. 127


Officials Mark Kickoff of Second Phase of Yorklyn Revitalization Project

YORKLYN – DNREC’s Division of Parks & Recreation kicked off the second phase of a project designed to revitalize the town of Yorklyn in the northwest corner of the state into a vibrant, lively and scenic centerpiece while still retaining its mill town roots.

Plans are moving forward after a public-private partnership was established to map out the future of the town. Today, Governor Jack Markell, DNREC Secretary Collin O’Mara and numerous other officials were on hand as DNREC hosted a groundbreaking event to mark the end of Phase 1 and the beginning of Phase 2 of the project, the Auburn Valley Master Plan. The project is expected to boost economic development and ecological restoration in the scenic area, and add to state parkland at the Auburn Heights Preserve located in the Red Clay Valley near the Pennsylvania state line.

“What you see here is the beginning of a new era in Yorklyn. It also represents the best example of how the state can work with private and public partners to build something truly special that benefits everyone in the community,” said Governor Jack Markell. “This project will be unique in its aesthetics and make Yorklyn a shining historic treasure for Delaware tourism.”

At the event, officials acknowledged completion of the $1.6-million, FEMA-funded demolition of the corporate headquarters of the former NVF manufacturing plant and zinc treatment facility, and began the demolition project for the main plant – making way for the unique redevelopment site that will include historic buildings, wetlands, flood mitigation areas and multi-use trails.

“This is one of the most complex public-private projects in the nation that transforms a shuttered site into a model of preservation, and redevelopment that will bring economic opportunity and prosperity to the area,” said DNREC Secretary Collin O’Mara. “The site is undergoing an environmental cleanup of nearly a century of historic contamination, as well as a stream restoration project that will not only improve water quality and protect fish in the Red Clay Creek, but will also reduce the severe flooding that has resulted in significant economic impacts to Yorklyn. With the beautiful, historic setting of Yorklyn as a backdrop, we believe the synergy created by the master plan – which includes a trail, an antique car loop, and steam railroad – will make this a uniquely Delaware destination.”

The goal of the public-private partnership is to reclaim the former mill town by cleaning up contaminated areas, restoring floodplains and expanding on tourism-drawing development. Not only does the plan call for shopping and restaurant development, but also a trail system that will connect the new commercial sites with historic and natural areas, in addition to connecting to existing attractions like the Marshall Steam Museum and the Delaware Nature Society.

The partnership is made up of private developers, neighboring organizations, and several divisions of DNREC, including the Division of Parks and Recreation, the Division of Waste and Hazardous Substances’ Site Investigation and Restoration Section, and the Division of Water. Partners outside DNREC include the Delaware Economic Development Office, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the court-appointed trustee for NVF, and Auburn Village LLC. The project was further bolstered by strong support from neighboring property owners, as well as conservation and recreational organizations in the Yorklyn area.

The Auburn Heights Preserve, part of the Delaware State Parks system, is home to the historic Marshall estate, which is managed through a partnership between Delaware State Parks and the Friends of Auburn Heights Preserve. The Friends group owns a world-class collection of operating vintage steam cars, including 14 Stanley Steamers and the miniature Auburn Valley Railroad.

The NVF Company produced vulcanized fiber and related products in Yorklyn until declaring bankruptcy in April 2009.