Virginia Institute of Marine Science
In late 1975, a manufacturing facility in Hopewell, VA had not only exposed workers to the chlorinated pesticide, Kepone, but had also severely contaminated the James River estuary. To assess the potential risk to the public, Virginia initiated a finfish-monitoring program in late 1975. Over the next 40 years over 13,000 samples were collected from the James River and Chesapeake Bay and analyzed for Kepone. Kepone production was eventually banned worldwide. The average Kepone concentrations found in most species began falling when the production of Kepone ended, but the averages remained over the action limit of 0.3 mgkg-1 until the early 1980s. By 1988, few fish contained average Kepone concentrations greater than the action limit. Kepone was still detected (>0.01 mgkg-1 wet weight) in the majority of white perch and striped bass samples taken from the James River in 2009 and a fish consumption advisory is still in effect over forty years after the source of contamination was removed.
Due to state budget cuts, monitoring of Kepone has not been conducted since 2009. As part of its 40th Anniversary, the Virginia Environmental Endowment -- which was established as part of the Kepone pollution court settlement in 1977 -- requested that VIMS conduct an updated study of the current levels of Kepone in the James River.
A final report submitted to the Virginia Environmental Endowment.
The Virginia Environmental Endowment.
Unger, M. A., Vadas, G.G. (2017). Kepone in the James River Estuary: Past, Current and Future Trends. Virginia Institute of Marine Science, College of William & Mary. https://doi.org/10.21220/V5ZW35