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.

Kenilworth Municipal Dump - May 24, 1967
Kenilworth Municipal Dump - May 24, 1967

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 – Ongoing - 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 will also reevaluate visitor soil exposure risk as a RI Addendum activity.

NPS is in the process of preparing an RI Addendum Report that will provide conclusions regarding OU2 (shallow groundwater) and reassess risk posed to visitors to KPS based on NPS’s updated vision of future use described above. NPS will also prepare a FS Addendum that will evaluate cleanup alternatives to address any unacceptable risks documented in the RI. The RI Addendum Report is scheduled to be released in fall 2018, and the FS addendum Report will follow in early 2019.

Drilling and logging at KPS (1024x768)
Drilling and logging at Kenilworth Park South

Community Involvement

Community involvement is an important part of the CERCLA process. You will have a number of opportunities to learn more about the project as well as review and provide comments on the proposed cleanup action (Proposed Plan) scheduled to be released in early 2019.

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. These boards may be viewed on the park's Facebook page. Handouts provided at the meeting included a Community Update and Frequently Asked Questions found in the Site documents.

NPS will continue to host public meetings at significant stages of the CERCLA cleanup process, including when the Proposed Plan is released. After release of the Proposed Plan, NPS will accept public comments on the plan during a specific public comment period. Notification of upcoming public meetings and the release of the Proposed Plan for public comment will be posted on this page, the park's social media and through other forms of communication. If you are interested in receiving email updates on the project, please email Donna Davies at with that request.

Kenilworth Park Landfill Site Documents

The National Park Service maintains a record of all site related environmental investigations, ecological and human health risk assessments, community relations materials, public comments, and NPS responses to significant comments. Find copies here.

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

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Last updated: October 19, 2018

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1900 Anacostia Drive SE
Washington, DC 20020


(202) 690-5185

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