July 2010
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Ottawa River Dredging Update

Members of the TMACOG Environmental Council held their May meeting at the Ottawa River dredging site and got a project overview and update from Robert Rule of de maximis, the company managing the project.

The project is enormous in scope and so are the ultimate benefits to the river and the Great Lakes region. The goal of the dredging operation is to remove sediment contaminated by heavy metals, PCBs, and PAHs, and restore the ecological functioning of the river. With less contaminated sediment, the entire food chain will be healthier, from insects, to the fish that eat them, to the people who may eat the fish. After the project is complete and testing is done, the goal is to have the fish consumption advisory lifted after being in effect for more than 20 years. If the project is successful, the Ottawa will no longer be a hazard to the fish, wildlife, and people here after decades as one of the most contaminated tributaries to Lake Erie.

The dredging operation has already finished in Sibley Creek and is now underway in the Ottawa River. The project calls for the removal of 250,000 cubic yards of contaminated sediments. Sediments are being pumped to the Hoffman Road landfill where debris is removed and the sediment de-watered. The water is treated to meet EPA standards and returned to the river. The sediment will remain in geo-textile tubes in the landfill. Later this summer, dredging will take place in “hot spots” identified as more heavily contaminated. These sediments will go to a hazardous waste facility.

The total estimated cost is $49 million, of which $24.5 million is coming from the U.S. EPA Great Lakes Legacy Act, and an equal amount from the Ottawa River Group. The Ottawa River Group is 10 area industries that contributed to the problems in the river before people recognized the danger and regulations put a stop to the dumping of dangerous chemicals in our waterways.

For more information see the EPA website on the project here, or contact Kurt Erichsen at 419.241.9155 ext. 126.

A view of the first containment area showing stacked geo-textile cells of dredged material. Dewatering cells will be stacked five high before works moves to another dewatering area.

Control valves adjust the flow into the dewatering cells at the Hoffman Rd. landfill.

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