Waynesboro left out of finalized river restoration plan

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WAYNESBORO, Va. (WHSV) -- A notable exclusion from the final version of a multi-million dollar plan to restore habitat along the South River is garnering reaction.

The final report from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Commonwealth of Virginia released last week details how a $42 million settlement from DuPont would be spent fixing mercury contamination from the company's plant decades ago.

The proposal, however, does not direct any money towards the City of Waynesboro — with $38 million left not allocated.

This is despite evidence indicating that the DuPont facility in Waynesboro leaked mercury into the South River for decades, which has stayed there since the 1940s.

Terry Short, the city's Vice Mayor, said the city will continue to push for a share in the settlement.

"We got a great story to tell, an important story to tell through the application process and are very optimistic about the possibility," said Short. "It's our expectation and our hope that we will be a prominent beneficiary of this settlement."

The final plan was put together after nearly 60 responses were received during the 45-day public comment period ending back in January.

So far, funding has been approved to a fish hatchery project in Front Royal that will be paid for directly by DuPont.

Four million dollars of the $42 million will go towards the freshwater mussel restoration program at Virginia Tech.

According to Short, a judge has to sign off on the settlement documents before funding could be handed out.

Learn more about the proposal in a 1on1 interview with Dr. Thomas Benzing.