Ashtabula River dredging gets under way

Environmental Issues - September 13, 2006

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An excavator does preliminary work on the landfill site.

Double walled HDPE pipe will be used to transfer sediment.

The US Environmental Protection Agency and Ashtabula City Port Authority have announced that dredging of 550,000 cubic yards of contaminated sediment from the Ashtabula River has started.

The US$50 million Great Lakes Legacy Act project began with the construction of a specially-designed landfill and water treatment facility on State Road and is the culmination of decades of planning by state, local and federal partners.

"This long-awaited Great Lakes Legacy Act dredging project will benefit the environmental, ecological and economic viability of the Ashtabula River and protect the waters of Lake Erie," said EPA Assistant Administrator of Water Ben Grumbles.

The dredging will continue until December, shut down over the winter and resume in March or April 2007. The project is expected to be completed in the fall of 2007.

The sediment will be removed from the river by a hydraulic dredge which creates a slurry of mud and water. The slurry will be pumped through a three-mile, double-lined pipeline to the disposal and water treatment facility on State Road.

The sediment will be separated and contained in the disposal facility and the water will be treated to clean it before returning it to the river. The sediment contains PCBs, hexachlorobenzene, hexachlorobutadiene, and other contaminants.

The Ashtabula River project is the largest so far under the Legacy Act. While previous Legacy Act cleanups have addressed contaminated places within larger areas of concern, this project seeks to comprehensively address an entire area of concern on the Great Lakes.

The Ashtabula River area of concern encompasses the lower two and a half miles of the Ashtabula River. Areas of concern are severely degraded sites within the Great Lakes where there is significant pollution.

Polluted sediment is a major reason why many Great Lakes fish are not safe to eat in unlimited quantities. Sediment contamination also harms aquatic life and habitat and pollutes sources of drinking water.

For more information on the Ashtabula River Legacy Act project go to: www.epa.gov/greatlakes/sediment/legacy/ashtabula.

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