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Sediment Dredging at Superfund Megasites: Assessing the Effectiveness (2007)

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Given the long time frames and many unknowns involved in cleaning up megasites, adaptive management -- which uses monitoring data to review progress and adjust plans when needed -- should be used to select and implement cleanup methods.

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In addition, dredging and other remediation projects should be designed to meet long-term goals for reducing risks to people and wildlife, instead of objectives not directly related to risk, such as removing a specified amount of sediment. The report emphasizes that without adequate monitoring before and after dredging, it is impossible to evaluate the degree to which cleanup objectives have been reached.

EPA should invest in better and more consistent measurement tools to monitor conditions in the field reliably and efficiently. Monitoring data should also be made available to the public in electronic form, so that evaluations of remedies' effectiveness can be independently verified. In addition, to help ensure that megasites with contaminated sediments are cleaned up as effectively as possible, EPA should centralize resources, responsibility, and authority for these sites at the national level, the report recommends.

Such a shift would help the agency make sure that monitoring is adequate and that adaptive management and best practices are followed.

The report was sponsored by the U. Environmental Protection Agency. They are private, nonprofit institutions that provide science, technology, and health policy advice under a congressional charter. A committee roster follows. Reporters may obtain a pre-publication copy from the Office of News and Public Information contacts listed above. Division on Earth and Life Studies. Board on Environmental Studies and Toxicology.


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Committee on Sediment Dredging at Superfund Megasites. Department of Geography and Environmental Engineering. Johns Hopkins University. Allen Burton Jr. Professor of Environmental Sciences and Director.

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Institute for Environmental Quality. Wright State University. Dayton , Ohio. William Clements. Department of Fishery and Wildlife Biology. Colorado State University. Frank C. Assistant Professor. Departments of Environmental Health Sciences and Biostatistics. A wide selection of other books is also available to anyone free of charge.

Some of the nation's estuaries, lakes and other water bodies contain contaminated sediments that can adversely affect fish and wildlife and may then find their way into people's diets. Dredging is one of the few options available for attempting to clean up contaminated sediments, but it can uncover and re-suspend buried contaminants, creating additional exposures for wildlife and people.

The book finds that, based on a review of available evidence, dredging's ability to decrease environmental and health risks is still an open question.