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Battelle Contaminated Sediment Conference Draws More Than 1,000 from 20 Countries

A talk on Environmental Processes and Modeling was one of five concurrent sessions held over the course of three days.

A talk on Environmental Processes and Modeling was one of five concurrent sessions held over the course of three days.

Poster sessions were held on Tuesday and Wednesday evenings, and presenters were available to discuss their work. A total of 259 posters were presented.

Environmental engineers and scientists, contractors, suppliers and others gathered in New Orleans on January 9 to 12 for Battelle’s Ninth International Conference on Remediation and Management of Contaminated Sediments. A total of 1,190 people from 20 countries participated in 51 technical sessions comprising 235 technical papers, 259 poster presentations, four panel discussions and a closing roundtable discussion. There were 80 exhibit booths. 

Coffee and lunch breaks in the exhibit area provided time for discussion.

Brian Skerry, underwater photographer for the National Geographic, was the keynote speaker at the opening plenary session. His talk, “Ocean Soul,” was a description of his experiences photographing the deep and shallow oceans of the world, and also the title of a volume of Skerry’s photos published by the National Geographic.  

Passive sampling science and application were among the topics discussed at the conference. This graphic illustrates the deployment techniques and the functioning of various types and locations of samplers. From the Passive Sampling User’s Manual, produced by the Department of Defense Strategic Environmental Research and Development Program (SERDP)/Environmental Security Technology Certification Program (ESTCP) and U.S. EPA Office of Research and Development (ORD).

Steering Committee Member Lisa Lefkovitz said that with 1,190 attendees, this was the largest contaminated sediment conference Battelle had ever put on. With five concurrent sessions, it was impossible to attend more than a fraction of the presentations, and Lefkovitz cited the closing roundtable discussion - What We Learned this Week: A Conference Recap, as a helpful summary of the conference.

The conference program is a fascinating overview of the science involved in seemingly every contaminated sediment remediation project in the United States, Canada, and some other countries. Scientists from Battelle, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, state and city departments of environmental control, and a plethora of companies involved in all aspects of remediation, from initial assessment, through acceptance for funding, project design and implementation, presented their findings in technical papers and poster presentations.   

 Lefkovitz’s expertise is in the emerging science of passive sampling, which she describes as a method of collecting pure data on toxins present in the environment. Sixteen talks on the topic were presented at a session devoted to the topic, with other related discussions distributed through other sessions. 

A culmination of 30 years of development, papers included both the science and applications of passive samplers and techniques for both existing and emerging contaminants of interest.  

Passive sampling involves deploying inert materials that accumulate hydrophobic organic compounds such as PCBs, PAHs, chlorinated pesticides, or dioxin/furans. Polyethylene sheets known as PEDs, or polyethylene devices, are a popular choice used to measure these types of compounds in the water column and in bottom sediments. Laboratory testing of the PEDs provides an accurate identification and quantification of freely dissolved contaminants present in the water and porewater of the testing area, and can be used to help estimate bioavailability of these compounds to the food chain. 

Other significant areas of interest were sediment capping and in situ treatment, which were allotted four sessions that included almost 50 abstracts. There were two sessions on sustainability, one tied to adaptive management, which was the topic of a panel discussion (see below.) 

Sustainability has become essential to long-term growth at ports and harbors, and restoration of economic productivity along urban waterfronts was the focus of a paper by Richard Wenning and others from Ramboll Environ on Incorporating Ecosystem Services and Sustainability in Sediment Remediation Decision Making. Other papers addressed the full spectrum of aspects of sustainability. 

 Dredging is an important tool used in removing and transporting contaminated sediment, and figured in many of the talks, as the major topic or as part of an overall discussion. It was the topic of two platform sessions: Dredging Design and Operation, moderated by Lew Conley of J.F. Brennan Company, and Paul Schroeder, of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Tim Donegan, Sevenson Environmental Services, Inc.; and Brian White, O’Brien & Gere, moderated the session Dredged Material Dewatering and Disposal. As well, papers on dredging were included throughout the other sessions.

Lefkovitz cited the work of Clay Patmont of Anchor QEA, who has been collecting data on residuals for 20 years, reporting his results at the Battelle conferences. This year, he presented his latest conclusions in his paper Environmental Dredging Residual Generation, Prediction, and Management, that because of the difficulty of removing contaminated low-density residuals that remain after dredging the area, the cost and effort of removing them often exceeds the environmental benefits of removing them.

A sampling of other presentations on dredging include: Considerations for Mechanical Dredging, Hydraulic Dredging and Mechanical Dewatering of Sediments, by Jerry Vetter, Mobile Dredging, and others; Environmental Dredging Residual Generation, Prediction, and Management, presented by Clay Patmont of Anchor QEA, LLC and others; PCB Remediation in the Upper Hudson River: Implementation Challenges and Achievements, by Juliana Atmadja or the Louis Berger Group and others; Dredging Challenges in the 21st Century: Jacksonville Port Authority's Dredged Material Management Area Capacity Issues, Jacksonville, Florida, by Robert J. Wagner, P.E. of AECOM Technical Services, Inc., and others; Boeing Plant 2 Sediment Remediation: Remedial Dredging Methods to Manage the Risks of Residuals, Re-suspension and Release (The Benefits and Costs), by Robert S. Webb, P.E., Dalton, Olmsted & Fuglevand, Inc, and others; Updating a Conceptual Site Model During Remedy Execution (New Bedford Harbor Superfund dredging project), Patricia White, Battelle; and Steven Wolf, Corps of Engineers. . 

 Poster sessions were held on Tuesday and Wednesday evenings in three locations, with the presenters on hand to discuss their work. The topics of the poster sessions mirrored those of the platform sessions.  

 

PANEL DISCUSSIONS

Four panel discussions gathered the expertise of specialists on topics of importance, providing a forum for analysis and consideration of each topic. 

Advances in Sediment Remediation

Moderators were Scott Cieniawski, U.S. EPA/GLNPO, and Ram Mohan, Anchor QEA, LLC. Topics included the River Raisin Hybrid Remedy Case Study and Lessons Learned, Chuck Pinter, Ford Motor Company; Caps and Covers, Ram Mohan, Anchor QEA; Bio-augmentation, Upal Ghosh, University of Baltimore; In-Situ Stabilization in the Gowanus Canal, Christos Tsiamis, USEPA Region 2; The Navy’s Research on In-Stu Remediation, Joey Trotsky, U.S. Navy; and USACE/ERDC Research Updates on Contaminated Sediment Remediation, Todd Bridges, ERDC. Drs. Mhan and Cieniawski led a 20-minute discussion following the presentations.

Superfund and Rivers: Costs, Benefits, and Getting to Cleanup

Moderators were Sabine E. Apitz, Ph.D., SEA Environmental Decisions, Ltd. and Teresa C. Michelsen, Ph.D., Farallon Consulting, LLC.

Panelists were Anne Fitzpatrick, M.S., Geosyntec; Chance Asher, M.S., Washington State Department of Ecology; Susanne Heise, Ph.D., Hamburg University of Applied Sciences. 

This panel session explored the costs and benefits of cleaning up large river systems under the Superfund framework, along with alternative approaches used in the USA and internationally. The benefits that Superfund listing of river systems is intended to provide were presented, along with perspectives on whether those benefits, both tangible and intangible, are being realized. 

 

Implementation of Adaptive Management: What’s the Obstacle?

Christopher Moody of the Intelligence Group moderated the discussion among panelists Megan McCulloch, senior counsel at The Dow Chemical Company; Steve Nadeau, Honigman Miller Schwartz and Cohn LLP-Partner; Doug Reid-Green, BASF-remediation manager; Doug Tomchuck, U.S. EPA- Region 2-RPM; and Steve Ells, U.S. EPA SSRC-Superfund Sediment Resource Center. 

“Although conventional wisdom supports Adaptive Site Management (ASM) as the most efficient and effective management approach at sites with uncertainty, the inherent dynamic nature of ASM often conflicts with the stakeholders’ desire for a firm schedule and cost of exposure,” Moody said. “We assembled a panel with speakers from all sides of the issue to discuss solutions to the challenges presented by ASM. Audience participation drew valuable questions and comments from a wide range of stakeholders in the environmental community,” he said. 

Some of the take-away messages from the discussion were:   

  • The sediment community should identify a relatively simple site where we can build on the excellent work the Berry’s Creek team has achieved applying ASM in New Jersey.
  • ASM should only be used at sites without a clear path to reach remediation objectives.
  • A conceptual site model and early strategic planning are necessary to build trust between stakeholders.
  • ASM should be structured with clear triggers for actions after the completion of each stage.

 

(See Van Raalte Moderates Adaptive Management Webinar, IDR, April/May 2016)

 

 

CERCLA and Clean Water Act Cross-Program Coordination Strategies

Recognizing both the need for coordination between the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, (CERCLA), also known as Superfund, and the Clean Water Act (CWA), and the barriers to such coordination, the 2013 Battelle Sediment Conference included a panel on CERCLA/CWA convergence and conflict. The moderator was L. Alexandra Liverman (Oregon DEQ). In 2015, Battelle held a panel on Interagency Coordination, which discussed potential tools and coordination efforts to clarify CERCLA/CWA overlaps to enhance outcomes for both. 

 

The 2017 conference presented an examination of EPA coordination recommendations, case studies from the U.S. East Coast to West Coast for coordination successes and failures, highlighting successful processes of coordination between federally-led CERCLA sediment cleanup and state-led CWA programs. Panelists were Chip Crockett, chair of the Sediment Focus Group of the CERCLA and Brownfields Subcommittee of the Association of State and Territorial Solid Waste Management Officials (ASTSWMO); Betsy Southerland, US EPA/OW, one of the principal implementers of the February 2015 CWA/CERCLA collaboration memo; Cyndy Mackey, EPA headquarters Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assistance; a principal implementer of the February 2015 CWA/CERCLA collaboration memo; John Cargill, Delaware DNREC, gave his state’s perspective on watershed approaches to CERCLA/CWA coordination; James McMillan, USACE/Portland District, leads the Portland Sediment Evaluation Team in interagency evaluation of sediment proposed for dredging by the Corps or permittees under section 404 CWA and section 103 Ocean Dumping Act. 

Industry sponsors of this year’s conference were: AECOM, AquaBlok, ARCADIS, Cable Arm, CDM Smith, CH2M, The ELM Group, Foth, Geosyntec Consultants, Great Lakes Environmental & Infrastructure, J.F. Brennan Company, Louis Berger, O’Brien & Gere, and Sevenson Environmental Services, Inc. 

Conference chairs were Andrew Bullard and Patricia White of Battelle. Technical steering committee members were Nadine Benoit, Ontario Ministry of Environment, and Climate Change; Barbara Bergen, Ph.D., U.S. EPA, Atlantic Ecology Division; John G. Cargill, IV, PG, DNREC; Lew Conley, J.F. Brennan; William L. Goodfellow, Jr., BCES, Exponent; Nancy Grosso, DuPont; Kendrick Jaglal, PE, O’Brien & Gere; Lisa Lefkovitz, PMP, Battelle; Kim Markillie, U.S. Navy, NAVFAC Pacific; Ram Mohan, PE, Ph.D., Anchor QEA, LLC; Paul Schroeder, USACE ERDC; and Luca Sittoni, Deltares. 

Battelle is a global research and development organization committed to science and technology.  It conducts research and development, manages laboratories, designs and manufactures products, and delivers critical services for clients, which are large and small corporations and organizations and government agencies

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