July 2, 2009

Toxic muck removed from Elizabeth River

Scientists and environmental activists hailed the removal of tons of toxic mud from the bottom of the Elizabeth River in Chesapeake, Va.

The removal marks the start of a $1.2 million cleanup environmentalists have been seeking for years, The (Norfolk) Virginian-Pilot said Thursday. A heavy equipment effort to rid the river of the unwanted muck finally began two weeks ago.

At last! Elizabeth River Project Board President Joe Thomas said of the effort.

We are creating history here today, Walter Priest, a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration wetlands expert, said. This is a voluntary cleanup, no one is making anyone do this.

The majority of the toxic substances in the river came from a 1960s fire in Chesapeake's Money Point that caused thousands of gallons of raw creosote to leak into the river.

Joe Rieger, Elizabeth River Project senior scientist, told the Virginian-Pilot nearly 500 tons of the toxic substances were removed from the river during the last two weeks.