Dredging Up the Past

by Virginia Fairweather, Editor in Chief; Civil Engineering Magazine, ASCE World Headquarters, 345 East 47th Street, New York City, NY.,

Serial Information: Civil Engineering—ASCE, 1995, Vol. 65, Issue 3, Pg. 44-47

Document Type: Feature article


Disposal of contaminated dredged materials has become a national problem. The nation's ports and harbors have postponed dredging because of the cost and difficulty in finding sites for these materials. In doing so, they jeopardize their economic health, since container ships need deeper channels to enter ports. Several engineers have devised methods to deal with these sediments. Some deal with containment, and innovation in new computer modeling that track flow paths and types of contamination to optimize the design of confined disposal facilities. Another method takes contaminated sediments and contains them in geosynthetic tubes that can be buried, or used for shoreline enhancement applications to create wetlands or fish farms. A method called LADS converts contaminated sediments to clean lightweight aggregate. Several kinds of equipment deal with dewatering the sediments, so less volume needs to be remediated or disposed of. A bio-remediation technique treats contamination in-situ and other methods are based on chemical extraction. Some consultants are using computer modelling to determine which soil types are likely to be contaminated with which pollutants. The idea is to pinpoint areas that need dredging and remediation, or disposal, and so minimize costs. Several case histories are described.

Subject Headings: Pollution | Dredged materials | Sediment | Computer models | Soil pollution | Ports and harbors | Optimization models

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