Kenilworth Park Landfill Site

Kenilworth Park Landfill Site is located within Anacostia Park, a unit of National Capital Parks – East, on the eastern bank of the Anacostia River. The Site is divided into two areas, Kenilworth Park North (KPN) and Kenilworth Park South (KPS). The areas are separated by Watts Branch, a stream that flows into the Anacostia River.


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Site History

From 1942 until 1970, the District of Columbia (District) operated a landfill at Kenilworth Park. The Landfill received municipal waste and ash from several District municipal waste incinerators. The landfill started in the northern area between Watts Branch and Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens (Kenilworth Park North, or KPN) and spread into the area south of Watts Branch (Kenilworth Park South, or KPS) in the late 1950s.

Municipal waste was burned at the Landfill until 1968, followed by a two year period of landfilling without open burning. In 1970, the entire landfill (KPN and KPS) had ceased operations, was covered with soil, revegetated, and reclaimed for recreational purposes. Athletic fields currently occupy KPN; KPS is undeveloped.

Workers in yellow vests use equipment to bore into the soil.
Drilling and logging at Kenilworth Park South

Kenilworth Park Landfill Environmental Investigations

1998 – 2002 – Preliminary Assessment/Site Investigations

During this phase of the CERCLA cleanup process, National Park Service (NPS) completed a review of historical information and collected environmental samples from the Site. After completion of these preliminary investigations, NPS determined that additional environmental investigations were warranted at the Site.

2007 – 2008 – Remedial Investigations

The purpose of a CERCLA Remedial investigation (RI) is to determine the nature and extent of contamination at a site and assess potential threats to human health and the environment. In 2007, NPS completed an RI Report for the Kenilworth Park North (KPN) area of the Site and in 2008 NPS completed the RI Report for the Kenilworth Park South (KPS) area.

The RI phase identified polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), dieldrin (a pesticide), arsenic, and lead as soil contaminants of potential concern for human health and the environment. In addition, methane gas was determined to be a potential concern. Although methane is not a hazardous substance as defined by CERCLA, due to potential safety concerns, in 2008 and 2009 NPS conducted supplemental sampling to assess methane issues at the Site. Of the 28 sampling locations, methane was detected in only two locations inside the Site and two locations at the southern edge of the waste disposal area. Methane was not detected in indoor air in the Kenilworth-Parkside Community Center, nor was it detected in Thomas Elementary School soils. Based on these findings, NPS concluded that methane is not a risk to recreational users of the park and methane is not migrating beyond Site boundaries.

The RIs identified potential visitor and site worker exposure risks associated with contamination in surface soil and subsurface soil/buried waste. The data collected during the RI phase did not indicate an overall impact from the Site on surface water or sediment in the adjacent surface water bodies (Anacostia River, Watts Branch, and Kenilworth Marsh). Groundwater collected during the RIs did not indicate a significant groundwater transport pathway to adjacent surface waters. Although existing data did not identify any exposure risks for Site groundwater underlying the Site; NPS determined additional assessment of shallow groundwater was warranted to ensure this conclusion was valid.

During cleanup, complex sites may be divided into several distinct areas; these areas, called operable units (OUs), may address geographic areas, specific problems, or medium (e.g., groundwater, soil) where a specific action is required. Following completion of the initial RIs, NPS separated the Site into two OUs. Operable Unit 1 (OU1) consists of surface and subsurface soils, including waste material in the landfill.

OU2 consists of shallow groundwater beneath OU1. NPS established separate OUs so the cleanup of Site soils (OU1) could proceed while additional investigations could be completed for OU2 (groundwater).

2012 – Feasibility Study – OU1

The feasibility study (FS) stage of the CERCLA process includes evaluation of potential alternatives and cost of cleaning up the Site. In 2012, NPS prepared a FS for OU1 that evaluated alternatives to address contamination found in surface and subsurface soil/waste. The chosen alternative was documented in the Proposed Plan released in 2013.

2013 – Proposed Plan

The FS for OU1 was followed by a Proposed Plan to address soil contamination at the Site. NPS released the Proposed Plan for public comment in February 2013 and presented it at a public meeting in April
2013. The plan identified installation of a 24-inch thick soil cap over most of the area within KPN and KPS as the preferred cleanup alternative. Based on public comments and NPS consideration of those comments, NPS determined selection of a cleanup plan for OU1 could be influenced by the additional investigations scheduled for OU2 (groundwater); therefore, NPS deferred selection of a cleanup for OU1until the additional investigations were completed for OU2.

2013 – 2019 - RI Addendum Activities

Since 2013, NPS completed multiple phases of additional RI activities. The purpose of these activities was to further assess OU2 (shallow groundwater) to determine groundwater quality below and migrating from the Site. In addition, since releasing the Proposed Plan for OU1, NPS has developed an updated vision for future use of KPS. Rather than redevelopment for recreation, as was the vision during the original RI, NPS expects to maintain KPS as a “Natural Resources Recreation” area. The new vision includes use of the Site for passive recreation, such as use of the planned extension of the Anacostia Riverwalk Trail (a paved walking and cycling trail that currently passes over the northern area of KPN), birdwatching and other passive recreational uses. Therefore, because of this updated vision for future use of KPS, NPS reevaluated visitor soil exposure risk as a RI Addendum activity.

In 2019, NPS completed the RI Addendum Report that provides conclusions regarding OU2 (shallow groundwater) and reassess risk posed to visitors to KPS based on NPS’s updated vision of future use described above.

2020 - Feasibility Study Addendum Report

Using the assessments completed for the Remedial Investigation, NPS identified and evaluated five cleanup alternatives for the Site. These evaluations are presented in the Feasibility Study Addendum Report which NPS completed in September 2020.

November 2020 Proposed Cleanup Plan

Based on the evaluation completed in the September 2020 Feasibility Study Addendum Report, NPS chose Alternative 3 as the preferred alternative for the Site. On November 12, 2020, NPS released the Proposed Cleanup Plan for the Kenilworth Park Landfill Site to explain the preferred alternative and invite public comment on the plan. NPS chose Alternative 3 because it will achieve substantial risk reduction focused on areas of the Site with greatest potential exposure risks. This alternative will allow the Site to be used as intended for both active and passive recreational uses, while reducing risk sooner and at a lower cost than the other alternatives. NPS prepared a recording which explains how NPS chose the preferred alternative and describes the Proposed Cleanup Plan for the Site.

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25 minutes, 50 seconds

The Kenilworth Landfill is an environmental hazard that the National Park Service is cleaning up. This video explains how the National Park Service chose the preferred alternative and gives a description of the proposed cleanup plan for the site.


Next Steps

The preferred alternative described in the Proposed Cleanup Plan is only NPS’s preliminary recommendation. NPS will chose a final plan after considering all public comments received. NPS is accepting public comments on this proposed plan from November 12, 2020 through March 12, 2021. NPS will select the final plan after soliciting and considering all community feedback. This final plan will be shared publicly in a Record of Decision.

NPS has reviewed initial comments/questions received from the public on the proposed plan and the CERCLA response action. NPS has prepared interim responses to these comments and questions to allow the public time to review NPS’s response and provide additional comments before the public comment period ends on March 12, 2021.

Want to Know More?

NPS has prepared visual posters to assist the public’s understanding of the Site and specific technical aspects of the work completed. These posters can be viewed by selecting the poster title of interest below.


Community Involvement

On November 18, 2020 NPS hosted a virtual public meeting to explain the proposed plan and accept public comments. Listen to the recording.


Public Comment Period

The initial 90-day public comment period for the Proposed Cleanup Plan began on Nov. 12, 2020 and was scheduled to close on s Feb. 10, 2021; however, NPS received a request to provide a 30-day extension to the initial 90-day public comment period; therefore, the public comment period end date is now March 12, 2021. The Record of Decision will include a summary that responds to all significant comments received during the comment period.

Providing Your Comments

Comments on the proposed plan and the other documents contained in the Administrative Record File can be submitted to NPS in three ways:

1001 G Street, N.W., Suite 1125
Washington, DC 20001
Attn: KPL Proposed Plan Public Comments

Email: e-mail us

Phone : (202) 359-3234

After consideration of comments received, NPS will determine if any changes are required to the Proposed Plan and will select a final remedy for the Site which will be presented in the “Record of Decision” (ROD). The ROD will describe the selected remedy which will be implemented to clean up the Site. Community involvement is an important part of the CERCLA process. NPS prepares Community Update fact sheets to update the public on the status of the CERCLA response. The November 2020 Community Update is available here and on the site documents page.

NPS hosted a public information meeting on October 17, 2018 to provide an update on the current status of CERCLA activities and plans for the future of the Site. At this meeting, NPS prepared poster boards that summarized activities related to the Site and provided a presentation on the Site's history, progress and future.

If you are interested in receiving email updates on the project, please email Donna Davies with that request.

An aerial black and white photo shows smoke wafting from the landfill across the Anacostia River and over the Langston golf course.
Kenilworth Municipal Dump - May 24, 1967

Kenilworth Park Landfill Site Documents

The National Park Service maintains a record of all Kenilworth Park Landfill Site Documents: environmental investigations, ecological and human health risk assessments, community relations materials, public comments, and NPS responses to significant comments. Visit to view these documents.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What is the Kenilworth Park Landfill Site?
A: The Kenilworth Park Landfill Site refers to an area within Anacostia Park, a unit of National Capital Parks – East (NACE), on the eastern bank of the Anacostia River. The Site is divided into two areas, Kenilworth Park North (KPN) and Kenilworth Park South (KPS). The areas are separated by Watts Branch, a stream that flows into the Anacostia River. From 1942 until 1970, the District of Columbia (DC) used the Site to burn and dispose of municipal waste. By the 1970s, the entire landfill (KPN and KPS) had ceased operations, was covered with soil, revegetated, and reclaimed for recreational purposes. KPN currently contains athletic fields which are actively used for recreation. KPS is currently undeveloped open space with meadows and wooded areas that provide important habitat for wildlife. The National Park Service (NPS) is undertaking actions to investigate the landfill pursuant to the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) to determine what risks, if any, the former landfill may pose to human health or the environment.

Q: What is the status of environmental investigations at the Site?
CERCLA and the federal regulations that guide CERCLA response actions (provided in the National Oil and Hazardous Substance Pollution Contingency Plan, known as the “NCP”) provide a thorough investigation and cleanup framework that ensures potential risks at a Site are fully assessed and cleanup alternatives are carefully evaluated. NPS has completed activities up through the Remedial Investigation/Feasibility Study (RI/FS) phase and on November 12, 2020 released a Proposed Cleanup Plan for the Site. NPS invited public comments on the plan and will consider all comments received from the public before determing a final cleanup plan for the Site. The formal notice of the cleanup plan chosen for the Site will be issued in the Site’s Record of Decision, or ROD. The ROD will include NPS’s responses to comments received on this Proposed Plan.It is after the Record of Decision when the remedial design phase will begin. This is when detailed cleanup plans are developed and implemented.

Q: What is the planned future use for KPN and KPS?
A: Congress has directed NPS to transfer “administrative jurisdiction” of the park area that includes KPN to the District of Columbia (Public Law 108-335 § 334). Congress has further stipulated that the transferred area must continue to be used for recreational purposes. The park area that includes KPS will remain under NPS jurisdiction. NPS plans to manage KPS as a Natural Resources Recreation Area. The only facility to be developed at KPS will be the future extension of the Anacostia Riverwalk Trail (ART) (a paved walking and cycling path). Except for the ART, KPS will remain in its current undeveloped state to provide important wildlife habitat and a buffer between developed urban areas to the east and the Anacostia River to the west.

Q: Does the Site pose a risk to recreational users of the park?

A: NPS completed a human health risk assessment that evaluates both the potential short term and long term human health risks to visitors. The risk assessment was based on conservative (i.e., more protective) visitor assumptions. NPS determined that there is no short term (i.e. “acute”) risk of exposure to site soils. To conservatively assess long-term risk, NPS estimated potential risk for a child visitor who spends two hours per day, 350 days per year for 26 years in contact with site soil. Based on this scenario, the child would have an approximate 1 in 30,000 increased risk of cancer. This is within the range that is considered “acceptable” under the NCP. However, when possible, the NCP requires remediation to be performed to reduce the excess cancer risk to be below 1 in 1,000,000. For this reason, as part of the Feasibility Study Addendum, NPS considered remedial alternatives that will reduce the potential exposure risk to visitors to below 1 in 1,000,000.

How will NPS determine if the Site poses a risk to recreational users of the park?
A: CERCLA and the NCP outline the process NPS is following to protect human health and the environment from contaminants at the Site. This process establishes rigorous requirements to determine the full nature and extent of contamination at the Site, identify objectives to be achieved by the cleanup, and evaluate alternatives to ensure the cleanup selected will protect people using the park and the environment.

Q: There was a Remedial Investigation (RI) Report prepared for KPN in 2007 and KPS in 2008. Why did NPS prepare a Remedial Investigation Addendum Report?
A: Following the completion of the 2007 and 2008 RI reports, NPS determined that additional investigation of groundwater was needed to assess whether contaminants attributable to the landfill were present and impacting the surrounding environment. These investigations were completed in 2018 and included a supplemental groundwater study, a porewater study, confirmatory groundwater monitoring, an aerial infrared thermographic survey, an updated screening level ecological risk assessment, an updated surficial soil assessment and a human health risk assessment. The District of Columbia Department of Energy and Environment (DOEE) also completed a groundwater seep investigation. All of these studies are discussed in the
July 2019 Remedial Investigation Addendum Report.

Q: NPS held a public meeting in 2013 to update the community on a Proposed Plan to address the Site’s soils and waste which included installation of a 24-inch thick clean soil cap over most of the former landfill areas. Why was this cap never installed?
A: NPS determined that the proposed remedy to address contaminants in surface soil (installation of a 24- inch clean soil cap) should be deferred pending the results of the additional investigations planned for groundwater underlying the Site. NPS has completed these groundwater investigations and summarized the results in the July 2019 Remedial Investigation Addendum Report.

Q: When will the Site be cleaned up?
A: After evaluating and responding to public comments received on the Proposed Plan, NPS will issue a Record of Decision (ROD) that will describe the cleanup plan for the Site. Once the ROD has been finalized and signed by the authorized Department of the Interior official, the remedial design/remedial action phase of the CERCLA process will begin. The remedial design includes development of engineering drawings and specifications for the Site’s cleanup. The remedial action implementation phase will follow the design phase, and involves the actual cleanup of the Site following the specifications provided in the remedial design.

Q: How will NPS keep the public aware of the most up-to-date information about the status of the park?

A: NPS will continue to update the park website NPS also will send out emails to announce the completion of significant project milestons. To be added to the email distribution list please contact the CERCLA project manager, Donna Davies at

Contact Information

Donna Davies
CERCLA Project Manager

Address: National Capital Parks-East
1900 Anacostia Drive, SE
Washington, D.C. 20020
Phone: (202) 359-3234
Mon.-Fri. 9:00a.m. - 4:00p.m. ET

Last updated: February 9, 2021

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Mailing Address:

1900 Anacostia Drive, S.E.
Washington, DC 20020


(202) 472-3884

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