The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, New York District (USACE-NYD) has contracted with Battelle to provide analytical services to evaluate contamination levels in dredged sediments. Results of these analyses will aid the USACE-NYD in their environmental decision-making process to determine the suitability of dredged material for placement at a remediation site.
Under the new contract, Battelle’s Analytical Chemistry Services Laboratory will conduct analyses of sediment, water and tissue samples for organic compounds. Additional support will be provided for high-resolution analyses of dioxins and furans.
USACE-NYD is responsible for managing federal navigation in New York and New Jersey waterways. Dredging of navigation channels, berthing piers and anchorage areas in the Port of New York and New Jersey is essential as fine-grained sediments transported by rivers settle and accumulate, causing shoaling that interferes with safe navigation. Existing navigation channel depths are maintained to allow adequate clearance for ocean commerce, and deeper navigation channels are excavated to ensure that the newest and largest deep-draft cargo ships have access to New York and New Jersey port facilities. Maintenance dredging alone generates approximately one to two million cubic yards of sedimentary material annually from New York and New Jersey waterways.
Historically, dating as far back as the mid-1800s, most of the material dredged from the Port had been disposed in the Atlantic Ocean in and around an area commonly known as the “Mud Dump Site.” As environmental regulations have improved to minimize adverse effects of contaminants associated with some dredged materials on ecosystems, living resources and human health, environmental agencies, including the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and USACE, worked to end ocean dumping in New York. In 1997, EPA closed the Mud Dump Site and surrounding areas that had been used historically as disposal sites for dredged materials and simultaneously re-designated the site as the Historic Area Remediation Site (HARS).
The preferred disposal option for dredged material from New York and New Jersey ports and harbors is to beneficially reuse this resource to cover or cap legacy sediments at the HARS. Only sediments classified as Category I (clean, uncontaminated sediments that cause no adverse biological or bioaccumulative effects) are permitted for placement at the HARS. With time, placement of this material should remediate the site by reducing impacts to acceptable levels and improving habitat conditions for bottom-dwelling organisms.
Sediments from proposed dredging projects are subjected to standardized chemical analyses as part of the suite of physical, chemical, and biological tests to determine suitability of sediment for HARS remediation. Work conducted under USACE-NYD by Battelle’s Team helps USACE-NYD understand the dredged material’s chemical content and physical attributes and evaluate its suitability for HARS placement.