Newly restored Bailey Creek provides scenic views, recreation at JBLE-Eustis

  • Published
  • By D Malama Chock
  • Air Force Civil Engineer Center-JBLE ISS

JOINT BASE LANGLEY-EUSTIS, VA - Bailey Creek is a hidden gem located northwest of Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Virginia. The tidal creek and marsh areas stretch approximately one and a half miles from the upper end to where it empties into Skiffe’s Creek and then the James River.  But Bailey Creek was not always the beautiful area it is today. 

In the 1990s, polychlorinated biphenyls, or PCBs, were detected throughout the middle to upper reaches of Bailey Creek with elevated concentrations of PCBs detected in fish and sediment.  Although no specific sources of PCBs contamination in Bailey Creek were documented, impacts to sediments are consistent with historical releases of PCBs into the stormwater system from Outfall 18 near the enlisted barracks on JBLE-Eustis.  

Before the 1979 PCBs production ban, PCBs were commonly used in many products.  Examples of some of these products include oil in transformers, capacitors, and other electrical equipment, oil in motors and hydraulic systems, fluorescent light ballasts, and thermal insulation material.

To address the Bailey Creek PCBs contamination, the restoration was managed under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act, or CERCLA.  JBLE-Eustis and the United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA), with concurrence from Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (VDEQ), developed a remedy for the site remediation and a Record of Decision (ROD) was signed in August 2011.  The ROD was further modified to develop the final remedy of a combination of sediment excavation with PCBs greater than one milligram per kilogram, and capping with geotextile fabric, stone and riprap in target areas and Land Use Controls (LUC).  The remedial action was initiated in January 2020.  This resulted in the removal and disposal of 296.33 tons of PCB-contaminated sediment and clay. 

In January 2022, Bailey Creek reached response complete (RC). RC is determined when all remedial actions and goals are achieved according to the record of decisions developed by JBLE-Eustis, the USEPA, and with concurrence from VDEQ. As a long-term monitoring (LTM) site regulated under CERCLA, any residual PCBs that are at LUC’s low levels are monitored until a risk assessment indicates acceptable risk based on unlimited use/unrestricted exposure or consumption.  LUC include no wading or swimming.

As another one of the LUC, recreational fishing in Bailey Creek is only authorized from the footbridge at the mouth of Bailey Creek.  Fishing at JBLE-Eustis requires registration through the iSportsman platform in accordance with JBLEI 32-102. To register, go to the iSportsman Portal,  Two new catch and release fishing boundary markers are located 150 feet up-gradient of the footbridge in the water. If you want to fish or have a quiet spot to see the sunrise or sunset from the northwest side of the installation, check out Bailey Creek at JBLE-Eustis.