Virginia Field Office
Northeast Region
Map of impacted watershed
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May 10, 2017- A public hearing has been scheduled for the proposed DuPont Waynesboro Consent Decree. See Order for more information and instructions. 

DateJune 2, 2017 - Beginning at 8:30 am, members of the public who wish to speak may sign up outside the courtroom on the third floor. The hearing will begin at 9:00 am and will continue until completion, no later than 5:00 pm. Speakers are limited to 5 minutes each, and an organization may be represented by only one speaker.

Location: United States Courthouse, 116 N Main St, Harrisonburg, VA 22802.

The Final Restoration Plan and Environmental Assessment for
DuPont Waynesboro - South River/South Fork Shenandoah River/Shenandoah River is available

April 20, 2017: Following a review of public comments, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Commonwealth of Virginia have finalized the Restoration Plan and Environmental Assessment (RP/EA) (PDF-2.35MB) for the Natural Resource Damage Assessment and Restoration (NRDAR) process for DuPont Waynesboro – South River/South Fork Shenandoah River/Shenandoah River. The goal of the settlement is to restore habitat and resources in place of those that were affected by mercury releases, and to protect the resources for the future enjoyment of the community.

The restoration categories include: recreational fishing improvement projects, agricultural and urban best management practices, land protection, mussel restoration, and migratory songbird restoration. These projects are expected to have long-term benefits to habitat, wildlife, and recreation locally and throughout the watershed. For example, agricultural and urban best management practices will improve water quality for miles downstream and benefit fish and wildlife.

During a 45-day public comment period ending January 30, 2017, we received over 60 responses from municipalities, state and federal agencies, nonprofit entities, other organizations and associations, businesses, and private citizens on the draft RP/EA. We considered all issues raised, and Appendix D of the final RP/EA includes the Trustee responses. The United States Department of Justice and the Virginia Office of the Attorney General lodged the Consent Decree, which includes the final RP/EA attached as Appendix A, on December 15, 2016. We are currently awaiting review by the District Court for the Western District of Virginia, Harrisonburg Division.

If the court enters the Consent Decree as a final court order:

  • The Trustees will finalize the process to receive and evaluate potential projects that are consistent with the restoration categories discussed above;
  • Project funding will be multi-year and should be available to the Trustees 30 days following the final court order; and
  • Trustees will host restoration planning and scoping meetings in the City of Waynesboro and in the affected watershed.

We are excited to continue working with the City of Waynesboro, community leaders, and others to get projects underway in the watershed. Throughout the process, status updates on each category will be posted on this webpage.

Under federal law, federal and state agencies and Native American tribes are authorized to act as trustees on behalf of the public for natural resources they own, manage or control. In this role, trustees assess and recover damages or implement restoration projects to compensate for injuries to natural resources due to hazardous substance releases, such as mercury.

February 3, 2017: The comment period for the draft Restoration Plan/Environmental Assessment closed Monday, January 30, 2017. Thank you to everyone who took the time to review the draft plan and for your comments and feedback.  We received over 50 emails and letters.  Our next steps are to review and address these comments and work on finalizing the Restoration Plan.



Restoration Category Status as of April 2017
  1. Water quality and fish habitat improvements - agricultural and urban BMPs (RP/EA 5.3.1)
Project submission process under development by Trustees pending approval of Consent Decree.
  1. Freshwater mussel restoration (RP/EA 5.3.2)
  1. Neotropical migratory songbird full life cycle restoration (RP/EA 5.3.3)
  1. Land protection, property acquisition, and recreational and wildlife enhancements:
CWPNAP – Willets Tract addition and forest restoration (RP/EA 5.3.4)
Acquisition pending approval of Consent Decree and transfer of settlement funding to Trustees.
Additional properties, prioritizing those adjacent to SR or SFSR, creating contiguous protected land corridors (RP/EA 5.3.5)
Stakeholder meetings to discuss priority areas will be scheduled following approval of Consent Decree.
  1. VDGIF FRFH Renovation (RP/EA 5.3.6)
  1. Recreational fishing access creation/improvement (RP/EA 5.3.7)

Mercury from industrial activities at a former E.I. du Pont de Nemours and Company (DuPont) facility in Waynesboro, VA, contaminated the South River and South Fork Shenandoah River, impacting fish, wildlife, and their habitats, including over 100 miles of river and associated floodplain and riparian habitat. Recreational fishing opportunities were also impacted from the mercury contamination, due to the fish consumption advisory on the South River and South Fork Shenandoah River.

Trustees, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Commonwealth of Virginia, worked cooperatively with DuPont for over 10 years to study the impacts of mercury on natural resources. Many of the injury studies were published in peer-reviewed literature (list and links below). 

Clean up activities on-site and in the South River are ongoing. Information on remediation activities is available online at:


Information on the NRDAR program is available online at:
For the DuPont case, see DOI Restoration Program - DuPont Waynesboro case.

Case Documents

Published studies related to the DuPont NRDAR. These studies informed the injury assessment.

Amphibian/reptile studies from South River/South Fork Shenandoah River

  • Bergeron, C.M., C.M. Bodinof, J.M. Unrine, and W.A. Hopkins. 2010.  Mercury accumulation along a contamination gradient and nondestructive indices of exposure in amphibians. Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry 29(4):980-988.

  • Bergeron, C.M., W.A. Hopkins, C.M. Bodinof, S.A. Budischak, H. Wada, and J.M. Unrine. 2011a.  Counterbalancing effects of maternal mercury exposure during different stages of early ontogeny in American toads.  Science of the Total Environment 409(22):4746-52.

  • Bergeron, C.M., W.A. Hopkins, B.D. Todd, M.J. Hepner, and J.M. Unrine.  2011b.  Interactive effects of maternal and dietary mercury exposure have latent and lethal consequences for amphibian larvae.  Environmental Science & Technology 45:3781-3787.

  • Burke J.N., C.M. Bergeron, B.D. Todd, and W.A. Hopkins.  2010.  Effects of mercury on behavior and performance of northern two-lined salamanders (Eurycea bislineata).  Environmental Pollution 158(12):3546-3551.

  • Todd, B.D., J.D. Willson, C.M. Bergeron, and W.A. Hopkins.  2012.  Do effects of mercury in larval amphibians persist after metamorphosis?  Ecotoxicology 21(1):87-95.

  • Willson, J.D. and W.A. Hopkins.  2013.  Evaluating the effects of anthropogenic stressors on source-sink dynamics in pond-breeding amphibians.  Conservation Biology 27(3):595-604.

  • Willson, J.D., W.A. Hopkins, C.M. Bergeron, and B.D. Todd.  2012.  Making leaps in amphibian ecotoxicology: translating individual-level effects of contaminants to population viability.  Ecological Applications 22(6):1791-802.

Bird studies from the South River/South Fork Shenandoah River

Other relevant links:

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Last updated: May 10, 2017