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WEDA Environmental Panel Explores Port Development Strategies

Presenting at the Environmental Panel were, bottom row from left: Gary McFarlane, Philip Spadaro, Robert Engler; top row, from left, Richard Weber, Don Hayes and Craig Vogt, moderator.

Presenting at the Environmental Panel were, bottom row from left: Gary McFarlane, Philip Spadaro, Robert Engler; top row, from left, Richard Weber, Don Hayes and Craig Vogt, moderator.

The WEDA Environmental Commission presented a panel discussion as part of the technical program at the annual meeting in Tempe, Arizona in June.

Craig Vogt, chair of the Environmental Commission, moderated the panel, which included five presentations on Port Development: Doing the Right Thing. The following are synopses of the presentations.

Gary McFarlane
“Port Development- from raw land to functional use via environmental safeguards”

My segment concerns the development of raw land, located in a harbor, for the purpose of providing back-up serviced lands to accommodate new seaway depth marginal wharf construction. The raw land use is assumed to have evolved over the years from various industrial uses and as such would contain the normally expected assortment of contaminates and associated hot spots.

The initial approach must be to consider the site to be self contained, and design capable of absorbing its own construction – that is, dredged material from the wharf construction and pregrading to maintain self containment of run-off from storm water.

The design, if done properly, should have as close to zero impact on the adjacent lands and water environment as is possible to realistically achieve.

Philip Spadaro, Senior V.P., ARCADIS US
“Ports as the Engine for Waterfront Cleanup”

Ports by their most fundamental nature are the recipients of deposits of contaminated land and sediment. Ports also exist in settings rich in habitat value. Ports are also vital to trade and community economic health. This nexus of fates creates a unique responsibility to act on behalf of their communities and the environment.

Ports have the opportunity and motive to act in cases where waterfront development or redevelopment goals overlap with the possibility of waterfront or sediment cleanup. Ports generally have the resources to act and will benefit from the revitalization of the waterfront.

Port development and redevelopment projects are typically complex and can be controversial. Understanding the playing field and the players up front is essential to efficiency and economy project execution. Reuse of contaminated land and in particular creation of new terminal surface using contaminated sediment is an opportunity not to be missed.

Don Hayes
“Reducing Sediment Placement Requirements through Beneficial Uses”

Productive utilization of dredged sediments as resource materials, or beneficial use, has always occurred to some extent when opportunity aligned with availability. Since its value has become more widely known, opportunities for beneficial use have been sought by dredgers and their customers. Examples include environmental enhancement, engineered uses, and agricultural and product uses.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has been working closely with local stakeholders on Regional Sediment Management (RSM) efforts across the country. Dredged Material Management Plans (DMMPs) have been developed for many projects that use sound engineering principles to identify the least costly alternatives for sediment management that meet environmental standards and address potential beneficial uses.

Reconsideration of economic impacts is an important component of the RSM and DMMP efforts. Ports have enormous local and national economic impact, so postponing dredging is not usually an option, and the increased costs of beneficial use may be offset by the cost of delays associated with other alternatives. As placement alternatives become more limited and expensive, beneficial use alternatives will likely be identified to ensure that our ports remain viable.

Richard Weber
“The Interrelationships of Port Development and Past/Present/Future Environmental Response Actions”

Stream of consciousness: Ports often encompass environmental legacy sites, with suspected or known upland and sediment impacts, with and without viable responsible parties, where response actions may or may not have already taken place. There follow two of six scenarios presented.

Scenario: Known contaminated sediments are experiencing natural recovery, with elevated concentrations of risk buried beneath cleaner material. Now the port wants to dredge to accommodate deeper-draft vessels. Who pays the extra costs for contaminated sediment disposal? Who addresses the risk associated with the newly exposed contaminated surface?

Scenario: The only affordable option to a PRP for dredge disposal is the port’s own Confined Disposal Facility (CDF), but doing so will greatly reduce the capacity and life expectancy of the CDF for the port’s navigational maintenance dredging program. What can be done to balance the benefits to human health and the environment of a cleanup project with the long-term economic viability of the port?

Bob Engler
“Dredging-You can’t do without it: But are you Doing the right thing the right way?”

A proposed dredging project -- navigation, construction or environmental -- can be a complex undertaking. The various components include but are not limited to: engineering, geomorphological impacts, contaminant issues, environmental habitat concerns, political interests, stakeholder involvement (supporters or opponents of the project), contracting, beneficial uses, dredged material treatment, placement site availability and selection, sustainability, financing, permitting and regulatory constraints and requirements, and equipment availability.

More than a general knowledge of these and other drivers is mandatory to ensure project success. A project team is necessary, as it is rare that knowledge of all of the above attributes is found in a single person. Broad initial planning and stakeholder involvement is necessary at the beginning and should be routine over the entire process. Facts regarding each step are a required driver, as full documentation is mandatory.

The most readily available source of factual documentation is the internet. There are listed below, organizations that have authoritative internet sites in retrieving the needed information. Without knowledge and application of these facts, a project will falter, require more time and costs and may simply be ruled unjustifiable.

Federal agency Web sites: USACE, F&WS, NMFS, NOAA, USEPA
State agency Web sites: DNR, DEQ, DOT

International Web sites: PIANC, CEDA, WEDA, EADA, WODA, IADC, IMO, SEDNET

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