Mud in the locks, ain't no big surprise...

Preliminary EPA and GE independent reports on Year 1 of the Hudson River dredging project are out, and they're something to take note of. The major highlights:

-Dredging is dirty work

-There's a lot of dirty dirt

Neither of these is a real revelation, but they were two of the main arguments used by pro- and anti-dredging advocates. What are the implications?

The antis were right, dredging mucked things up pretty good. Concentrations of contaminate in air and water spiked above EPA standards. Anyone who has been following the issue at all knows that dredging activities were suspended when downstream sampling indicated elevated PCB levels over the course of the season. We're putting people and the environment at risk by dredging.

The pros were right, something needed (needs) to be done. All indications are, there's a lot more nasty stuff down there than we had hoped to see. It hasn't decayed, been buried or washed away. It's both a ticking time bomb and a slow dose of death. We'd be putting people and the environment at risk by not dredging.

Anybody know if any spoils shipments have left for Texas yet?

They've got this year off to review data, standards, procedures and tighten everything up before getting back on the water. Even with the scope expanding (another fear of the antis), the official word is still a 2015 end date. Of course, GE doesn't think they can meet both productivity standards and contamination standards simultaneously. Personally, I'd rather see them keep the contamination standards where they are, but I guess we'll see.

From the Post-Star:

Observers of the project were not shocked by the high level of contamination.
"For anyone who follows the project, it shouldn't be a great surprise to anybody," said David Carpenter, a professor of Environmental Sciences at the University at Albany.

Still, the breadth of the contamination is incredible, he said.

"It's just mind boggling," Carpenter said. "It's just mind boggling."

Comments

Flying Ties said…
Can I ask, why was suction dredging chosen over diversion dam dredging?

Seems as though things like an expanding scope (gee, ya think?!) could be dealt with immediately and, ultimately, things wouldn't be any slower.

Plus, it probably would've been easier to control the contaminates if they weren't dealing with 10-20kcfm of water.

... oh, and then theres the whole "PCB's in water and air levels were dropping but now they're higher than ever" thing. Glad I live right near the dredging project.
FoulHooked said…
You can ask, my suspicion is diversion dam dredging (coffer dams and the like?) would require realigning entire reaches of the river. If I'm not mistaken (and I usually am), there are provisions for coffer dams in select areas within the plan, and those options may be revisited in preparations for Phase II.

What are you referring to when you say "immediately" and "slower"? There is a planned dredging hiatus before entering "Phase II". I don't see how you can possibly maintain production rates and tight controls (the latter of which have already been compromised) while increasing the scope and expecting to complete the project on schedule. Better water conditions will help, but it won't be nearly enough.

"Water" concentrations are the lesser of the problems as I see it...simple filtration will remove particle-associated contaminants for drinking, and when particles re-settle, contamination will be much reduced in the riverbottom in the long run. Not that water shouldn't be addressed, but air exceedances are intolerable.

What's the better option...fix something at a cost, or let it lie? Is it wrong just because it's making things messy again? Is it right just because we found what we expected to? There are lessons to be learned here beyond the emotion, politics and rhetoric, and there will be more along the way. Hopefully somebody can pin them down. Good luck up there...I heard there's a new hot dog stand in town. What is the world coming to....
Flying Ties said…
What I'm speaking of, with "immediately" and "slower" is, as issues arise (and this project has had a few...) like possibly expanding the scope of digging, the scope could've been expanded NOW instead of having to potentially go back over areas that have already been dredged just to get more, and without impacting the true timeline (2015 is hopeful, at best, right now).

The problem is, there is no answer. There is no good option. I wasn't in favor of dredging in the first place since, even though the pollution didn't go away, nature had its own way of containing it and safety was becoming less and less of a concern, former ground dump sites not withstanding. Now that its going on, I'm disappointed with how its being run and seeing what I see. The eye sore of barges is no big deal, but the poor methods and execution I see is. Bringing more people to the area is one of the upsides, but why not hire more local companies? I've met a lot of the contractors, and all of them have been from Connecticut.

And yeah, the new hot dog place has amazing stuff but is a little pricey. The price didn't stop me from going there for a couple of michigans though.

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