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Battelle Conference Examined All Aspects of Contaminated Sediment Removal and Treatment

Tom Stephens, left, and Bryan Hamilton of TenCate. Stephens gave a presentation on a major sediment cleanup in Canal do Fundão on the outskirts of Rio de Janeiro using Geotubes.

Tom Stephens, left, and Bryan Hamilton of TenCate. Stephens gave a presentation on a major sediment cleanup in Canal do Fundão on the outskirts of Rio de Janeiro using Geotubes.

The environmental dredging community was well-represented at the Battelle Seventh International Conference on Remediation of Contaminated Sediments at the Dallas, Texas Hyatt Regency Hotel on February 4 through 7.

Dredging companies exhibiting included J.F. Brennan, Terra Contracting, Durocher Marine, Ryba Marine Construction Co., Sevenson Environmental Services, and Carylon. Science and engineering companies involved in environmental dredging projects were well-represented among the attendees and presenters. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers personnel also presented papers and chaired sessions and panels.

The technical program consisted of four instructor-led short courses, 239 platform presentations in five technical tracks, four breakout panels, and 199 poster presentations in two evening sessions. Meals were served in the exhibit hall, where the more than 900 attendees visited 60 exhibit booths and viewed the poster presentations.

The program covered high-profile environmental dredging projects, including those at Lake Onondaga, Hudson River, and Passaic River, New York; Kalamazoo River, River Raisin, and Lake Allegan, Michigan; Indiana Harbor, Indiana; Calumet River, Illinois; and Money Point, Virginia, among others. Co-Conference Chair Eric Stern of Battelle presented a talk and co-chaired a panel on Urban Sediment Management, which is becoming a large focus, as it involves several mega-remediation sites such as the Gowanus Canal remediation in Brooklyn, New York and the Passaic River in New Jersey. Bruce Biemek, at the time president and CEO of Great Lakes Dredge & Dock Company (GLDD), visited the conference and met with members of GLDD’s new subsidiary Terra Contracting at their booth.

Every aspect of dealing with contaminated sediments was examined during the conference, from microscopic analysis of benthic organisms, identification of toxic chemicals in sediments, processes for dealing with contaminated sediments, and high volume sediment removal and treatment.

The hundreds of presentations and posters encompassed myriad topics of interest to the dredging industry. There follows descriptions of a sampling of these:

 

TenCate

Tom Stephens of TenCate, manufacturer of Geotubes®, woven polyethylene tubes used to dewater sediments, described the environmental remediation of the Canal do Fundão, adjacent to the main road from the Rio de Janeiro airport into the city.

In 1994, the Brazil Ministry of Environment identified this canal as the worst-contaminated estuary in Brazil. Canal do Fundão was created in the 1950’s when several near-shore islands on the western shore of Guanabara Bay in Rio de Janeiro were joined by dredged sand to form one large island, which became the site of the Federal University of Rio campus, the Rio de Janeiro City hospital, and the research center for Petrobras.

The elimination of the tidal flow created a stagnant canal where waste and debris collected. The natural fauna and flora died out, resulting in a prevalent foul odor and unsightly mess. Stephens described a project beginning in 2009 to clear out the debris, dredge the sediment into Geotubes, and cap the tubes. An estimated two million cubic meters of sediments were involved, of which 600,000 cubic meters were contaminated.

The 265-foot-long tubes were stacked three layers deep, and the material in the tubes eventually dewatered to 65 percent solids. The area was then capped and planted, and today it forms an attractive entrance into the city, with parks and hiking trails.

Stephens will present a paper on another dramatic Geotube application at the Western Dredging Association annual meeting in Hawaii on August 25 through 28. This project created a new container terminal – Embraport in Brazil -- on a highly contaminated site, by using the filled tubes to create a solid footprint for the port facilities.

 

Thomas Bajko, left, Zac Morrish and JoAnne Careau representing Ryba Marine of Cheboygan, Michigan. Morrish described a 160,000 cubic yard cleanup of the Sheboygan River in Wisconsin that the company had just completed.

Ryba Marine

Zac Morrish, president of Ryba Marine Construction, told IDR that the company had completed the major dredging operations on a 160,000-cubic-yard cleanup of the Sheboygan River, Wisconsin, in joint venture with Terra Contracting. Sheboygan is an “area of concern” identified by the Great Lakes Legacy Act and administered by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, which provides up to 65 percent of the funding for communities to clean up contaminated areas. This is one of several projects in the Sheboygan area. Ryba performed the dredging, while Terra did upland stabilization on the project. Ryba used an excavator equipped with a prototype Cable Arm excavator clamshell, and a crane equipped with a Cable Arm environmental clamshell bucket for the dredging, which began in August, 2012. (See photo on page 5.)

The joint venture will complete the final restoration this spring.

Morrish was enthusiastic about the project and the EPA Great Lakes Legacy Act Program, which is a cost-share effort between federal and local sponsors.

“Now that the river is clean, the city will be able to develop the area and use the river for recreation,” he said.

From the EA Engineering, Science and Technology booth, Peggy Derrick described a seven-year, $25 million sediment remediation project in a Great Lakes Area of Concern that she is participating in, doing site characterization and remedial design for the project.

Ted Smith, president of Marine Tech LLC of, attending the conference with Nick Patterson, talked with IDR on the exhibit floor about HMTF (Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund) legislation.

“This (legislative) session is the best chance to get RAMP (Realize America’s Maritime Promise legislation) passed. It bodes well on both sides of the aisle,” he said. “I’m disappointed in the stonewalling; people should stop talking about the ‘surplus’”, he said, referring to an amount collected through the user taxes in the past, that has already gone into the general fund.

Smith decried the focus on deepening East Coast ports to the detriment of shipping in the Great Lakes.

“The Corps is determined to deepen the East Coast ports, when the Great Lakes are so desperate for dredging dollars, and backlog grows and grows,” he said. “In the Great Lakes we’re doing light loading to get in and out of the ports.

“Our navigation systems have to suffer to benefit half a dozen ports. When they closed the North Central Division (office in Chicago), and gave authority to Cincinnati on the Ohio River -- that began the decline of funding for the Great Lakes. The river (funding) grows and the lakes (funding) declines, when both have identical (shipping) tonnage,” he said.

 

Tyler Lee, project manager at J.F. Brennan, explains the company’s River Raisin contaminated sediment removal project at the Tuesday evening poster session.

J.F. Brennan

Matt Binsfeld, manning the J.F. Brennan booth, told IDR that the company is at capacity. Among the projects are at hydro-electric dams -- specifically to install a penstock in Duluth.

“Dredging is busy,” he said. Among the projects are the continuing Fox River cleanup and environmental management on islands in Pool 9 of the Mississippi River for the Corps, and contaminated sediment cleanup in the West Branch of the Grand Calumet River.

Brennan presented both a poster and talk on their project at the River Raisin Area of Concern in southeastern portion of Michigan’s Lower Peninsula, downstream of Dam Number 6.

 

Ray Bergeron, seated, demonstrates Cable Arm’s ClamVision bucket positioning system to Eric Stern.

Cable Arm

Ray Bergeron, Harry Steves and Randy Hurt explained Cable Arm’s environmental buckets and the ClamVision program -- a GPS-based bucket positioning system, to visitors. During the technical sessions, literally every paper describing mechanical removal of contaminated sediments depicted a Cable Arm Environmental bucket in use.

 

 

Mike Kulbeth, left, and Duke Long spent time describing recent sediment dewatering projects that used Del Tank & Filtration’s Total Clean system for handling dredged sediment to IDR.

Del Tank & Filtration

Duke Long told IDR that the company is involved in a major dewatering project, and has recently sold and leased a number of dewatering systems. The prospects are looking good for Del Tank, he said. “Last year was dead, but we’ve had a lot of inquiries so far this year.”

Del Tank’s system is in use at the Lake Onondaga, New York cleanup – a project that was the subject of a number of presentations at the conference. Sevenson is dredging 2.2 million cubic yards of contaminated material from the lake using three DSC dredges – a six-inch Marlin, an eight-inch Moray and a 14-inch Shark. They will cap the area using 3.3 million cubic yards of sand.

 

In the NASA booth, Robert Devor, Lewis Parish, and James Captain of QinetiQ North America, NASA affiliate, describe the PCB removal system to a visitor.

NASA

The National Aeronautic and Space Administration demonstrated what could be a revolutionary product in their booth. NASA associate Toxicological and Environmental Associates developed a passive system of narrow, pointed cones that when embedded in sediment contaminated with PCBs, and the PCBs adhere to the cones. The system can clear an area of PCBs in a matter of months. The cones are mounted on three-by three-foot or four-by-four-foot sections and can be placed over an entire contaminated area.

 

The Lewis Berger Group contributed five talks and a poster presentation during the conference. Here, Solomon Gbondo-Tugbawa, water quality manager, and Andrew Wolfson, environmental engineer, man the company’s booth.

Poster Sessions

The poster sessions presented a wealth of information, with authors available to describe their projects. The posters were arranged at both ends of the exhibit hall, and comprised presentations from every topic covered by the conference.

Among the poster topics were Dredging and Disposal of Sediments in San Francisco Bay, by SAIC; Strategic Endangered Species Protection in Dredging Projects, by ARCADIS; an entire section on Environmental Dredging; a section on Dredged Material Disposal and Containment; and Soil Washing Treatment of Dredged Sediments at the Port of Pescara, by DEME Environmental Contractors, to name only a few.

 

In the Terra Contracting booth are, from left, Jeff Brown, Rima Franklin, Bruce Biemeck, Steve Taplin and Suzanne Grix.

Tetra-Tech

In their poster in the Field Sampling and In-Situ Measurements section, Joel Davis and Dave Richardson described Tetra Tech’s sampling of the Kalamazoo River, Michigan in the wake of a major oil spill. On July 26, 2010, Enbridge Energy’s oil line 6B ruptured, releasing an estimated 840,000 gallons of crude oil near Marshall, Michigan. The oil recovery work focused on overbank areas, but was expanded when submerged oil was identified in some river areas that extended for up to 40 miles from the release.

Tetra Tech was charged with characterizing the suspended sediment particle size distribution and associated total petroleum hydrocarbon (TPH) and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon (PAH) concentrations from selected locations. They did this using samplers consisting of polyvinylchloride pipes that captured fine-grained sediment using ambient flow to induce settling in the sampler body. The sampling continued through 2012.

Andy Bullard and Eric Stern of Battelle co-chaired the conference. Both addressed the kickoff plenary session, and introduced the keynote speaker Linda Greenlaw, the swordfish boat captain whose experiences inspired the book and movie The Perfect Storm.

At the concluding roundtable, eight specialists in sediment conducted a discussion with the audience on the vision and future of the industry.

“The Café Roundtable was well attended and gave a sense of closure for the four days that we were together assimilating a significant amount of information,” said Stern.

“The evolution of contaminated sediments management is a complex, trans-disciplinary field, where economic, political, and technical challenges have reached a crossroads,” he said.

Battelle is a research and development organization that holds a number of high-profile conferences every year. The next Contaminated Sediment and Remediation Conference is scheduled for 2015.

Matt Binsfeld, left, and Glen Green in the Brennan booth.

Devlin Huhta, Jonathan Crowe and Aaron Harke in Durocher Marine’s booth, talked about the company’s contaminated sediment dredging capabilities. Durocher is headquartered in Cheboygan, Michigan.

John Hull, left, president of AquaBlok, and John Collins, general manager and COO in the company’s booth. Hull participated as a session chair, speaker and panelist.

Ted Smith, left, and Nick Patterson of Marine Tech, Duluth, Minnesota, on the exhibit floor. Smith spoke with IDR about his concerns with lack of dredging funding in the Great Lakes.

 

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