The Dredging Dilemma

by Virginia Fairweather, Editor in Chief; Civil Engineering, 345 E. 47th St., New York, NY 10017,

Serial Information: Civil Engineering—ASCE, 1990, Vol. 60, Issue 8, Pg. 40-43

Document Type: Feature article


Disposal of dredge materials is becoming a national environmental problem. Disposal sites on land are becoming extremely scarce and environmental objections growing. There are also objections to ocean disposal sites, and investigation of any site is costly and time-consuming. About 5% of the more than 300 million cu yds of material dredged each year is contaminated, typically with polychlorinated biphenyls (pcbs) and metals. Remediation of that portion is extremely costly and subject to greater environmental objections and scrutiny. In situ remediation techniques are being looked at several Superfund sites, where the law obliges parties to clean up. At non-Superfund sites, the problem of finding responsible parties and clean up funds is even more problematic. Most dredging is to maintain navigational channels for shipping, so there is an economic imperative to continue. However, several Great Lakes harbors have not been dredged for years. Remediation methods such as incineration, bioremediation, chemical treatment, confined disposal sites, are described and compared as to cost. Case histories of demonstration clean up projects are given.

Subject Headings: Waste sites | Dredged materials | Remediation | Environmental issues | Site investigation | Dredging | PCB | Chemical treatment | Great Lakes

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