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Green Light Given For Major Test Of Three Options To Clean Sediment From New York-New Jersey Port

Release Date: 11/12/1998
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(#98156) New York, New York -- The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), in cooperation with the U.S. Department of Energy's Brookhaven National Lab (BNL) and the U.S. Army of Corps Engineers (Corps) has moved one step closer to resolving the dilemma over how to treat contaminated sediment dredged from the Port of New York/New Jersey. Under the EPA's leadership, BNL has awarded three contracts, worth a total of $2.2 million, to three companies to conduct large-scale tests of innovative sediment cleaning and beneficial use techniques. The techniques are designed to remove or immobilize organic and metal contaminants, leaving clean material that can be used for everything from cement and glass tile to garden soil.

"The techniques we have chosen offer exciting new options for the management and disposal of dredged materials and contaminated sediments from this tremendously active port," said Jeanne Fox, EPA Region 2 Administrator. "We will use these large-scale projects to help develop an entire dredge material 'treatment train' -- a soup to nuts approach that will include the best ways to dredge and transport sediment, to process or decontaminate a range of contaminated dredged materials, and ultimately to put the processed material to beneficial use."

The three contracts, funded through the federal Water Resources Development Act, are being awarded to The Institute of Gas Technology/ENDESCO of Des Plaines, Illinois; BioGenesis Enterprises of Milwaukee, Wisconsin; and WELCO of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, formerly Westinghouse Science & Technology Center. The goal of these contracts is to help evaluate the technical and economic feasibility of building and operating a large-scale treatment facility for dredged sediment at the port. The three contract recipients have already tested their projects on a smaller scale under EPA, Corps and BNL supervision.

On average, the Corps' New York District and private companies dredge approximately 4 million cubic yards of sediment each year from the Port of New York-New Jersey to maintain channels needed for ship traffic and other uses. Much of the dredged material cannot be disposed of in the ocean due to the presence of elevated levels of metals and organic chemicals. The Corps is developing a Dredged Material Management Plan for the port to evaluate the various disposal and management options, including sediment treatment.

EPA, BNL and the Corps have been exploring the extent of sediment contamination in the New York/New Jersey Harbor and have been overseeing the development and testing of new options for cleaning the harbor and its sediment. Sediment cleaning options must be environmentally safe and cost-effective, and must work for the many different types of dredged material found in different parts of the harbor.

The tests are expected to be completed by mid-1999. The high-value products created by the treatment strategies will help defray the treatment costs. It is anticipated that, ultimately, costs for treatment will be competitive with alternative disposal methods for dredged material such as subaqueous disposal pits.

The three projects awarded contracts are:


BioGenesis is working with Roy F. Weston, Inc., to implement a sediment-washing technique. The approach uses a high-pressure water jet and proprietary chemical additives, to extract both organic and inorganic contaminants from the sediments. The cleaned material is used as the basis for a fertile manufactured soil with several different applications. An initial demonstration treating 10,000 cubic yards of material will be carried out under the new contract, worth about $1 million.


IGT will use a natural gas-fired thermochemical manufacturing process operating at high temperature to destroy the organic contaminants and transform the sediment into construction-grade cement. Metals are stabilized within the inorganic matrix of the product. The cement can be used in place of Portland Cement for general construction projects. Under the $1 million contract, an operational treatment facility capable of treating 10,000 cubic yards per year will be constructed, with plans to move to a 100,000 cubic-yard-per-year capacity in about 18 months.


WELCO will use a high-temperature plasma arc to destroy organic contaminants and incorporate the metals into a glassy matrix. The resulting glass can be used for the production of glass tile. Under the $270,000 contract, WELCO will carry out studies to assess the economic feasibility of using the glassy material in the production of glass tile.

For more information contact:
Mary Mears, Press Office
EPA Region 2
290 Broadway
NY, NY 10007-1866
Voice: 212-637-3669 FAX: 212-637-5046 E-Mail: