Corps of Engineers completes report on Buxton Beach contamination

USACE, Savannah District
Published March 28, 2024

BUXTON, N.C. – The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Savannah District, has completed its Summary Report of site visits occurring from September 2023 through February 2024 on a section of shoreline in Buxton, N.C., at the former U.S. Navy facility.

The Army Corps of Engineers Summary Report recommends continued coordination with the National Parks Service to study what storm, tide, and wave conditions have led to occasions where the organic material washes onto the shore as well as conditions that lead to the noticeable odor. Developing a predictive model, in as much as one can be developed, would allow USACE to be proactive and have a team in place, to not only verify the conditions, but to try to find the source.

The Savannah District’s Formerly Used Defense Site Program team continues to coordinate its efforts with the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality, the National Park Service, and the Coast Guard, as assessment efforts progress toward determining if action is warranted under the FUDS Program.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ FUDS Program addresses environmental liabilities that resulted from Department of Defense activities at eligible properties. For a property to be eligible for the FUDS Program, it must have been formerly owned by, leased to, or otherwise possessed, by the United States and then transferred outside of DoD control prior to Oct. 17, 1986. For a project to be eligible, there must be known or potential contamination or hazards attributable to DoD activities occurring prior to Oct. 17, 1986, and associated with the property.

“The limiting factor we’ve run into is program policy specifically states, hazards that arise after a property is transferred out of DoD control are not FUDS eligible,” said Sara Keisler, USACE, Savannah District, FUDS Program Manager. “But, if the source of the recently reported petroleum contamination is the result of DoD activities prior to Oct.17, 1986, then the FUDS Program can be used to clean up the area.”

The former Buxton Naval Facility is owned by the National Parks Service, and it was used by the U.S. Navy from 1956 to 1982, under a special use permit from the NPS. There were underground storage tanks with petroleum products when the Navy used it. Those tanks leaked, and USACE completed removal of the tanks and the saturated soil in the early 2000s.

The Army Corps of Engineers will continue working with its partners to assess whether recently reported contamination is linked to DoD activities prior to 1986. However, remedial action using the FUDS Program is not authorized due to an unknown source. Additionally, the concrete structures that were uncovered after years of erosion on the beach were not associated with the petroleum or the initial cleanup of the area that occurred in the 1990s, which also means those remnants are currently ineligible for removal under the FUDS Program.

The Army Corps of Engineers will continue to remediate residual groundwater contamination, which currently does not appear to be related to the recently reported petroleum contamination. 

The Savannah District’s FUDS Program team continues to coordinate its efforts with the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality, the National Park Service, and the Coast Guard to protect human health and the environment.


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Cheri Drago-Pritchard, Media Operations Chief
912-677-6039 (cell)

Release no. 24-008