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Evaluating Dredging Effectiveness at the Ashtabula River

Challenge

Since 2006, Battelle has supported the U.S. EPA Office of Research and Development (ORD) and Great Lakes National Program Office (GLNPO) at the Ashtabula River, OH, Great Lakes Legacy Act (GLLA) project site. The Ashtabula River was designated as a Great Lakes Area of Concern (AOC) due to contamination with polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), metals and other industrial wastes. GLNPO conducted dredging operations in 2006 and 2007 to remove contaminated sediments. ORD and GLNPO contracted Battelle to develop and evaluate assessment and monitoring methods along biological, chemical and physical lines of evidence (LOEs) in order to evaluate the short-term and long-term effectiveness of the remediation at the Ashtabula River project site.


Solution

Battelle conducted a baseline (pre-dredge) sediment characterization in 2006 and follow-up monitoring surveys during dredging, immediately after dredging, and for five years after remediation. Researchers examined multiple lines of evidence to monitor recovery and track the fate and transport of contaminants through the environment.

These lines of evidence included:

  1. Sampling and chemical analysis of contaminants in surface, suspended and historic sediments

  2. Multi-level, real-time sampling and analysis of contaminants in the water column

  3. Sampling, chemical analysis and development of toxicity endpoints for indigenous fish

  4. Innovative bathymetry, suspended sediment and plume monitoring and modeling

  5. Novel macrobenthos collection techniques for determining benthic conditions and contaminant exposure

  6. New passive sampler technology and deployment techniques
     

Outcome

These data along with other relevant data were used to develop the first Remedy Effectiveness Assessment at a GLLA project site. The biological, chemical and physical LOEs evaluated by the team at the Ashtabula River can be utilized on various spatial and temporal scales to inform project managers on the short- and long-term impacts of sediment remediation at their sites. They will also be able to be applied for conducting Remedy Effectiveness Assessments at other future sediment remediation project sites.