Prepared by: Michael A. Zarull, John H. Hartig, and Lisa Maynard
Sediment Priority Action Committee
Great Lakes Water Quality Board

August, 1999


Contaminated sediment is a major problem in the Great Lakes Basin ecosystem and is well recognized in Remedial Action Plans (RAPs) and Lakewide Management Plans (LaMPs) (SedPAC 1997). Much has been done in contaminated sediment remediation over the last thirteen years and considerable much more will be done in the future. For example, over $580 million has been spent on 38 sediment remediation projects in 19 Areas of Concern over the last thirteen years (Table 2). Not only has substantial resources been spent on sediment remediation, but the rate of increase has accelerated in recent years (Figure 2). In addition, substantially greater resources have been spent on pollution prevention and control as prerequisites to sediment remediation.

Many of these sediment remediation projects (Table 2) were implemented as a result of regulatory actions. In the United States, 31 contaminated sediment remediation projects were implemented as a result of regulatory actions, and one was the result of a public-private partnership. In Canada, 6 contaminated sediment remediation projects have been implemented, 5 by cooperative partnerships and one as a result of industrial action. Of the 38 sediment remediation projects implemented over the last thirteen years, 27 involve dredging and disposal, one involved in situ capping, one involved in situ treatment, and 9 involve dredging, treatment, and disposal.

Of the sediment remediation projects implemented thus far, only two currently have adequate data and information on ecological effectiveness (i.e., post-project monitoring of beneficial use restoration). These include Waukegan Harbor, Illinois and Black River, Ohio. It should be noted that a number of areas have planned monitoring of ecological effectiveness, but the data will not be available for a number of years. In the cases where sediment remediation was undertaken as a result of regulatory action, these projects were designed to remove a mass of contaminants and reduce environmental risk. These projects were very effective in meeting the regulatory requirements and indeed are consistent with the step-wise and incremental approach to management of contaminated sediment and restoration of beneficial uses called for by the Great Lakes WQB (SedPAC 1997). However, it is recognized that in many cases, much more effort should be placed on forecasting and assessing ecological recovery of an Area of Concern and beneficial use restoration. Again, the purpose of RAPs, as stated in the U.S. - Canada GLWQA, is to restore beneficial uses.

Table 2. A breakdown of sediment remediation projects in Great Lakes Areas of Concern

Thunder Bay
  • In 1998, approximately 13,000 m3 of creosote-based contaminated sediment began being removed from the Northern Wood Preservers, Inc. (NWP) site. Contaminated sediment will be dredged, treated, and reused on NWP property. Total project cost is $9.3 million (Canadian), with $3.3 million paid by Environment Canada, $1 million paid by Ministry of Environment, and the remainder paid by Abitibi Consolidation, NWP, and Canadian National Railway Co.
  • St. Louis River/Bay
  • From August-November 1997, Murphy Oil removed approximately 1,800 m3 of contaminated sediment from the Newton Creek impoundment and 92 m3 from Newton Creek immediately downstream of the impoundment. Dredged material was solidified with cement and placed in an on-site disposal area, which was then capped. Estimated cost was $250,000.
  • Manistique River
  • In 1998, approximately 23,700 m3 of PCB contaminated sediment were removed from the harbor.
  • In 1997, approximately 19,100 m3 of contaminated sediment were removed from the river and the harbor.
  • In 1995-1996, about 13,000 m3 of contaminated sediment near the North Bay were removed. In all three projects, sediment was disposed of in a nearby landfill. The total cost for all three projects to date is $25 million.
  • Lower Menominee River
  • In 1998, U.S. EPA issued a Consent Order requiring remediation of arsenic contamination in the Lower Menominee River. The Consent Order requires Ansul to remove about 7,700 m3 of arsenic contaminated sediment from the Eighth Street Slip by the end of 1999. Estimated cost is about $1.3 million.
  • In 1993-1994, approximately 11,500 m3 of bulk paint sludge were removed by mechanical dredging and transported to a nearby Treatment, Storage, and Disposal facility. This was an emergency removal through administrative orders by the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ). Approximate cost was $50,000.
  • Milwaukee Estuary
  • In 1994, approximately 5,900 m3 of PCB contaminated sediment were removed from behind Ruck Pond Dam. Over 95% of the mass of PCBs was removed from the system as a result of this project. The total project cost was $7.5 million.
  • In 1991, approximately 570,000 m3 of contaminated sediment with varying levels were isolated from the Milwaukee River by the removal of the North Avenue Dam and stabilization of the sediment exposed in the new floodplain with wetland vegetation. The cost involved with the isolation of the contaminated sediment was approximately $1,348,000.
  • Waukegan Harbor
  • As a result of a 1989 Consent Decree, Outboard Marine Corporation provided $20 million for remediation of PCB contaminated sediment. No soils or sediment above 50 mg/kg PCBs remain onsite, except those within containment cells. Approximately 30,000 m3 of contaminated sediment were dredged in 1992 and placed in two separate containment cells.
  • Grand Calumet River
  • In 1998, the USX Steel Corporation agreed to pay a total of $55 million in a settlement contained in two consent agreements. USX will pay approximately $30 million to remove and dispose of approximately 535,600 m3 of contaminated sediment from 8.05 km of the lower Grand Calumet River over the next 5 years. USX will also undertake capital improvements estimated at $22 million including wetlands restoration next to the river, construction of a disposal facility for contaminated sediment, and improvement of the Gary facility.
  • From 1994 to 1996, LTV Steel dredged approximately 89,000 m3 of contaminated sediment from a slip adjacent to Indiana Harbor. The total project cost was an estimated $14 million.
  • Kalamazoo River
  • PAH, mercury, and lead contaminated sediment in Davis Creek was removed from January-April 1999. An estimated 3,100 m3 of sediment were removed from Davis Creek, and an additional 600 m3 of hazardous waste from the skimmer pond that outfalls into Davis Creek were also removed. Dredged material was taken off-site for disposal in a landfill. Cost was estimated at $900,000.
  • In 1998, U.S. EPA ordered the cleanup of the Bryant Mill Pond area of Portage Creek, which is part of the Allied Paper, Inc./Portage Creek/Kalamazoo River Superfund Site. The pond area is no longer under water, but is an exposed floodplain contaminated with PCBs. The cleanup will consist of removal of approximately 68,900 m3 of PCB contaminants from the creekbed and floodplain areas. Contaminated residuals, sediment, and soil removed will be placed in Bryant lagoon and appropriately covered until a final remedy for on-site containment units is selected by MDEQ. Removal should be completed by the end of 1999. The Potential Responsible Parties are paying U.S. EPA to conduct the removal under a settlement agreement at an estimated cost of $7.5 million.
  • Saginaw River/Bay
  • In 1998, a settlement involving General Motors (GM) Corp., Bay City, and the city of Saginaw was reached that includes $28 million to help restore and protect the Saginaw River and Saginaw Bay. GM will spend $10.9 million on PCB contaminated river sediment dredging. This 1-2 year dredging project is scheduled to begin in 1999, and will remove approximately 264,000 m3 of contaminated sediment.
  • A Remedial Investigation/Feasibility Study (RI/FS) conducted from 1986-1997 concluded that there remains significant PCB contamination in the Superfund site of the South Branch of the Shiawassee River. The RI/FS proposes the following: excavation and off-site disposal of soil, river sediment, and floodplain sediment of PCBs > 10 mg/kg in the Cast Forge Plant Area and the South Branch of the Shiawassee River; institutional controls; and limited access. In all, about 35,600 m3 of sediment will be removed. Cleanup is estimated to begin in about 2 years. The estimated cost for this project is $13,558,000.
  • Collingwood Harbour
  • From 1992 to 1993, approximately 8,000 m3 of contaminated sediment were removed from the shipyard slips and adjacent areas in the harbour using the Pneuma airlift system. The total project cost, which included partners from Environment Canada Great Lakes Cleanup Fund and the Ministry of Environment and Energy, was an estimated $650,000 (Canadian).
  • Rouge River
  • In 1997-1998, Wayne County removed PCB contaminated sediment from an impoundment (Newburgh Lake) in the Upper Rouge River and placed it in a secure landfill. Approximately 306,000 m3 of contaminated sediment were removed. The total project cost was an estimated $11 million and funded through U.S. EPA funds from the Rouge River National Wet Weather Demonstration Project.
  • The PCB source area to Newburgh Lake (Evans Products Ditch Site) was addressed by the MDEQ with support from U.S. EPA. Completed in April 1997, approximately 7,300 m3 of PCB contaminated stream sediment were removed and transported for disposal at a landfill in Michigan and a hazardous waste disposal facility in New York. The total project cost was approximately $750,000.
  • In 1986, 30,000 m3 of zinc contaminated sediment was removed from the Lower Branch of the Rouge River by mechanical dredging and placed in cell #5 of the Corps of Engineers' Pointe Mouille Confined Disposal Facility on southwestern Lake Erie. All dredging and disposal activities were completed at an approximate cost of $1 million.
  • River Raisin
  • Starting in mid July and running through the end of September 1997, Ford Motor Company in Monroe removed approximately 20,000 m3 of PCB contaminated sediment from a "hot-spot" adjacent to the shipping channel. The PCB contaminated sediment has been disposed of in a Toxic Substances Control Act cell that was built on the property of the Ford Monroe Plant. Total cost was approximately $6 million.
  • Maumee River
  • Remediation of an unnamed tributary to the Ottawa River in Toledo, Ohio was completed in June 1998. A total of 6,100 m3 of sediment, containing 25,300 kg of PCBs, were dredged from the property. This cleanup of PCB contaminated sediment was carried out under a public-private partnership including the City of Toledo, Ohio EPA, U.S. EPA, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and GenCorp, Inc. The cost of the cleanup was estimated at $5 million. The project was funded by a U.S. EPA grant of $500,000 to Ohio EPA, $140,000 from an Ohio EPA settlement with the City of Toledo, and the remainder from GenCorp.
  • In 1994, GenCorp remediated the Textileather plant site area. Excavation and disposal of around 4,900 m3 of contaminated soil occurred. Also as part of the remediation, the storm sewer was power washed and 466,170 L of waste water were collected and treated. Total cost was over $2 million.
  • Black River
  • In 1990, the USS/KOBE Steel Company removed over 38,000 m3 of PAH contaminated sediment from the Black River mainstem in the areas of the former coke plant outfall. The total project cost, which was funded entirely by USS/KOBE, was $1.5 million.
  • Ashtabula River
  • Plans for future cleanup of contaminated river sediment are now underway. A draft Feasibility Report is scheduled for public release in August 1999 and a Record of Decision in April 2000. Detailed design work is anticipated to begin in Fiscal Year 2000. The construction contract is scheduled to be awarded in April 2002 with project completion by September 2005. The present cost of the comprehensive project is $42,560,000, which includes an estimated $860,000 for ecosystem restoration projects. The project consists of dredging a total of 536,000 m3 of contaminated river sediment (of which 115,000 m3 is classified as Toxic Substance Control Act material - PCBs > 50 mg/kg). Dredged material will then be transported to a transfer/dewatering facility and then truck hauled three miles to an upland disposal facility, which will be designed/constructed with two cells to take both non-TSCA and TSCA classified sediment.
  • Hamilton Harbour
  • In 1995, a layer of uncontaminated material was used for in situ capping to uniformly cover heavy metals, PCB, and PAH contaminated sediment. The project was funded through the Great Lakes 2000 Cleanup Fund at a cost of $300,000 (Canadian). An additional $350,000 (Canadian) was provided by the National Water Research Institute to further monitor and evaluate the project.
  • From 1992 to 1994, there was in situ treatment of contaminated sediment in one industrial boat slip near the headwall area. Oxygen, iron oxide, and calcium nitrate were injected. This was a demonstration treatment to find the depth of contamination. The total project cost was estimated at $323,000 (Canadian).
  • St. Clair River
  • In 1996, Dow Chemical removed approximately 200 m3 of pentachlorophenol contaminated sediment. The removal took place about 1 km south of the Cole Drain, about 30 m offshore. The total project cost was estimated at $350,000 (Canadian).
  • Detroit River
  • In 1999, a decision was made to remove a total of 23,000 m3 of contaminated sediment from the Black Lagoon. A portion of the contaminated sediment will be treated through the "Cement-Lock" process and the remainder will be disposed. Total project cost is approximately $4 million, with dredging costs estimated at $1 million and treatment demonstration costs estimated at $3 million. The project should take about 4 months to complete, and could possibly begin as early as Spring 2000.
  • Removal of contaminated sediment in Monguagon Creek, a tributary to the Detroit River, was completed in 1997. The project was funded largely by Elf Atochem North America Inc., with an estimated cost of $3 million. Approximately 19,300 m3 of contaminated sediment were dredged from the creek.
  • In 1993, Wayne County removed approximately 3,100 m3 of contaminated sediment near a marina by Elizabeth Park. The total project cost was estimated at $1.33 million.
  • Niagara River
  • In 1996, approximately 21,800 m3 of contaminated sediment were removed from the 102nd Street Embayment (New York). The entire landfill remediation cost is approximately $30 million.
  • In 1995, approximately 10,000 m3 of contaminated sediment were removed from the Welland River (Ontario) using an Amphibex dredge. The total project cost was estimated at $2.6 million (Canadian).
  • In 1995, approximately 11,500 m3 of contaminated sediment were removed from Pettit Flume (New York). The approximate cost was $23 million.
  • In 1992, approximately 6,100 m3 of contaminated sediment were removed from Gill Creek (New York). The total project cost, which was funded entirely by DuPont, was approximately $10 million.
  • In 1990, approximately 13,000 m3 of dioxin contaminated sediment from Black and Bergholtz Creeks (New York) were removed. The total project cost was approximately $14 million.
  • St. Lawrence River The New York portion of the AOC involves three major industrial sites. Ongoing remediation projects, as required by New York State and U.S. EPA, address land-based and contaminated river sediment remediation. Some land-based projects involve shoreline and on-site wetland remediation. Projects at each industry include:
  • Reynolds Metals - The shoreline remediation requires contaminated river sediment removal, with completion expected by the end of 2000. Total volume removed will be approximately 59,370 m3. The contaminated river sediment work is estimated to cost $62.4 million. The land-based plant site remediation, which includes wetlands remediation, is nearing completion at a cost of $53.7 million.
  • General Motors - During the summer of 1995, GM completed the major portion of its St. Lawrence dredging with the removal of approximately 11,500 m3 of PCB contaminated river sediment. The river work to date has cost $10 million. The extent of required treatment and disposal for the dredged materials is under review. Further river sediment remediation in a cove adjacent to the St. Regis Mohawk Tribe remains to be completed. Total project costs, including land-based actions with groundwater recovery and treatment, are estimated to cost $78 million.
  • ALCOA - The major "hot-spot" at the plant outfall in the Grasse River was remediated in 1995 as part of a "non-time critical removal action." This involved the removal of approximately 3,000 m3 of PCB contaminated river sediment. The results of this project are under review as is the feasibility of other remedial alternatives downstream from the outfall in the Grasse River up to the St. Lawrence River confluence. Major land-based inactive hazardous waste site remediation at the ALCOA plant site continues with 10 of the 14 Record of Decision sites now completed. Overall remediation costs are estimated to be in excess of $250 million.
  • Figure 2. Trends in sediment remediation in Great Lakes Areas of Concern: A. Cumulative number of sediment remediation projects; B. Cumulative financial resources expended on sediment remediation; and C. Cumulative volume of sediment removed