|In 2009 dredging began in the Upper Hudson River to remove sediments with PCBs. Read more.|
I was viewing the dredging from the Fort Edward yacht basin with many curious onlookers recently, and people wanted to know what would become of the PCB-laden dirt and debris.
I told them the barge in front of us was nearly filled to capacity and would soon be moved by tugboat to a processing facility. A 110-acre facility specially constructed on the Champlain Canal between Locks 7 and 8 in Fort Edward is the sole processing facility for the project’s dredged material. There, the sediment and debris is sorted to remove remaining sand, sticks, silt and rocks (anything larger than 5/8 of an inch in diameter is separated from smaller material). Water is added to the remaining PCB-laden dirt to create slurry and to help move the material through pipes to 12 specially manufactured filter presses housed inside a sediment dewatering building. The presses squeeze the slurry to remove the water, and the water goes to a water-treatment plant to be cleaned to drinking-water standards before being returned to the Champlain Canal. The material remaining is called “filter cake.” The cake is then placed inside impervious liners inside railcars that make up 81-car trains. These trains leave the area every few days on their way to a licensed disposal facility in Andrews, Texas.
Right now, as the flow of the river allows, dredging operations are taking place 24 hours a day, six days a week, (Sundays are reserved for contingencies and maintenance) and sediment and water treatment are taking place around the clock, seven days a week. The project has 450 dedicated railcars continuously looped between here and the disposal facility. More information about this project can be found at the following websites: www.epa.gov/hudson/ and www.hudsondredging.com/.
About the author: Kristen Skopeck is originally from Cedar Rapids, Iowa. She is an 11-year Air Force veteran and was stationed in California, Ohio, Texas, Portugal, and New York. After working for the USDA for three years, Kristen joined EPA in 2007 and moved to Glens Falls, NY to be a member of the Hudson River PCB dredging project team. She likes to spend her time reading, writing, watching movies, walking, and meeting new people.