Dredging of one of the most polluted rivers in the country, the Grand Calumet River, resumed October 18, continuing a project that was first started in 2012 and has removed 1 million cubic yards of material to date.
This section of the river clean-up will dredge approximately 180,000 cubic yards of toxic sediment from the federal channel of the Indiana Harbor and Ship Canal in East Chicago and another 30,000 cubic yards from a separate area of the canal under a request from ArcelorMittal. The channel will be dredged to the federally authorized depth of 22 feet.
The river contains polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB) and therefore has posed a problem as to where to dispose of the dredged materials. Earlier this year the Environmental Protection Agency and the Indiana Department of Environmental Management tabled the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers permit while they studied an option for off-site disposal and capping hot spots. The waste material will be hydraulically offloaded to a confined disposal facility.
Durocher Marine, a division of the Kokosing Construction Company, and O’Brien & Gere (OBG) were selected as a joint venture for the project, working first under a previous five-year $60 million contract and currently under a new $55 million contract that covers a base year and four option years. OBG designed, built and now operates the disposal area and operates a groundwater collection and treatment that sits on an EPA Resource Conservation and Recovery Act site. They also developed and operate the air monitoring system with results made available on a public website. Durocher conducts the dredging using a closed bucket mechanical dredge and barges the sediment to the disposal area.
Once the backlog dredging is complete, maintenance dredging will occur, as needed, over 20 years to remove reaccumulated sediment. The harbor was last dredged in 1972.