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Assessment and Remediation of Contaminated Sediments (ARCS) Program

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Biological and Chemical Assessment of Contaminated Great Lakes Sediment

US Environmental Protection Agency. December 1993. Abstract and Table of Contents for "Biological and Chemical Assessment of Contaminated Great Lakes Sediment." EPA 905-R93-006. Chicago, Ill.: Great Lakes National Program Office.

Abstract

The quality assurance (QA) policy of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) requires every monitoring and measurement project to have a written and approved quality assurance program and project plan. The purpose of this quality assurance program plan is to specify the policies, organization, objectives, and the quality evaluation and quality control (QC) activities needed to achieve the data quality requirements of the Assessment and Remediation of Contaminated Sediments (ARCS) Program. These specifications are used to assess and control measurement errors that may enter the system at various phases of the program, (during sampling, preparation, and analysis).

This Project Summary was developed by EPA's Environmental Monitoring and Systems Laboratory, Las Vegas, NV, to announce key findings of the research project that is fully documented in a separate report of the same title (see Project Report ordering information at back).

Project Description

The 1987 amendments to the Clean Water Act, Section 11 8(c)(3), authorize the USEPA Great Lakes National Program Office (GLNPO) to coordinate and conduct a 5-year study and demonstration project relating to the control and removal of toxic pollutants in the Great Lakes, with emphasis on removal of toxic pollutants from bottom sediments. Five areas were specified in the Clean Water Act as requiring priority consideration.

Funded by
USEPA Great Lakes National Program Office
USFWS Contract Number DW14933874-1
Battelle Contract Number 89934235-0

Project Officer:
David C. Cowgill
Great Lakes National Program Office
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
77 West Jackson Boulevard
Chicago, IL 60604

Project Officers:
Christopher G. Ingersoll
Denny R. Buckler
National Fisheries Contaminant Research Center
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
4200 New Haven Road
Columbia, MO 65201

Eric A. Crecelius
Battelle Northwest Laboratory
Marine Science Laboratories
439 West Sequim Road
Sequim, WA 98382

Thomas W. LaPoint
Clemson University
One TIWET Drive
Pendelton, SC 29670


Abstract

Section 118 (c)(3) of the Clean Water Act (CUA), as amended by the Water Quality Act of 1987, authorized the USEPA Great Lakes National Program Office (GLNPO) to carry out a 5-year project dealing with the Assessment and Remediation of Contaminated Sediments (ARCS) at selected Great Lakes Areas of Concern (AOC). Sediment assessment procedures performed by the National Fisheries Contaminant Research Center (NFCRC) on samples from Indiana Harbor, Buffalo River, and Saginaw River AOCs included: Elutriate Toxicity Tests (Chapters 2 and 3), Whole Sediment Toxicity Tests (Chapter 4), Benthic Community Structure (Chapter 5), and Mutagenicity (Chapter 6) and Genotoxicity (Chapter 7) Assays.

Sediment samples collected from Indiana Harbor were severely contaminated compared to either Buffalo or Saginaw River based on sediment toxicity and chemistry. While sediment samples from Saginaw River were generally less contaminated compared to Buffalo River, considerable spatial variability in contamination was evident at all three AOC. About 41% of the elutriates samples prepared from these sediments were designated as toxic using either Daphnia magna or Microtox assays. Interpretation of toxicity using Selenastrum capricornutum was complicated by variable nutrient and inorganic carbon concentrations in the elutriate samples.

About 68% of the whole sediment samples were toxic to Hyalella azteca, Chironomus riparius, or Chironomus tentans in 10-d to 28-d exposures. Fourteen- and 28-d exposures with Hyalella azteca which monitored effects on survival, body length, and sexual maturation, identified a higher proportion of toxic samples compared to either 14-d exposures with Chironomus riparius or 10-d exposures with Chironomus tentans.

Oligochaetes and chironomids were the dominant taxa at each AOC indicating impacted benthic communities. Average number of midges with mouth part deformities ranged from 45 to over 77% in samples from the AOCs. Artificial substrate samplers which were colonized in situ sampled a more diverse taxa compared to benthic grab samplers.

Over 90% of organic extracts from sediment samples were classified as mutagenic or genotoxic using Ames and Mutatox assays. Toxicity of the organic extracts complicated interpretations in the Ames assay, but was not a problem in the Mutatox assay.

Each sediment sample contained a complex mixture of inorganic and organic contaminants. Additional studies are required to determine specific contaminants that may be causing adverse effects (e.g., sediment spiking and Toxicity Identification Evaluations).

Data from these studies are to be evaluated with the Sediment Quality Triad which will integrate data from laboratory exposures, benthic community structure, and chemical analyses to provide complementary evidence for the degree of pollution-induced degradation in aquatic communities at each AOC. Results of the Triad evaluations will be discussed in a later report.

This report was submitted in fulfillment of USFWS Contract Number DU14933874-l by the National Fisheries Contaminant Research Center, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Battelle Contract Number 89934235-0 by Battelle Northwest Laboratories under partial sponsorship of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. This report covers a period from 03/01/89 to 11/10/92, and work was completed as of 11/10/92.

INTRODUCTION

Section 118 (c)(3) of the Clean Water Act (CWA), as amended by the Water Quality Act of 1987, authorized the USEPA Great Lakes National Program Office (GLNP0) to carry out a 5-year project dealing with the Assessment and Remediation of Contaminated Sediments (ARCS) in the Great Lakes. Annex 14 of the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement of 1978, as amended, between the United States and Canada stipulated the cooperating parties identify the nature and extent of sediment pollution in the Great Lakes, develop methods to assess effects, and evaluate the technological capability of programs to remedy such pollution. Information from these activities is to be used to guide the development of Remedial Action Plans (RAPs) for the identified Great Lakes Areas of Concern (AOC) as well as Lake-wide Management Plans (Ross et al. 1992).

Areas of Concern include major municipal and industrial centers on Great Lakes rivers, harbors, and connecting channels where beneficial uses are impaired (International Joint Commission 1987, 1988a, 1988b). Toxic contamination of bottom sediments is often a major problem in these areas. Additionally, areas exist where impairment of beneficial uses (e.g., navigation, swimming, fishing) of water or biota have been documented. There are currently 42 AOC: 25 in U.S. waters, 12 in Canadian waters, and 5 international connecting channels. The CWA designates five AOC for priority consideration: Saginaw River, MI; Sheboygan Harbor, WI; Indiana Harbor, IN; Ashtabula River, OH; and Buffalo River, NY. This report describes research designed to evaluate the toxicity in AOCs where sediments do not have to be removed to maintain navigational channels, but present a hazard to the ecosystem if left in place.

In order to implement the ARCS program, a management framework was established by GLNPO, which included an Activities and Integration Committee and four technical Work Groups: (1) Toxicity-Chemistry, (2) Risk Assessment Modeling, (3) Engineering-Technology, and (4) Communications-Liaison. The goal of the Toxicity-Chemistry Work Group was to assess the nature and extent of bottom sediment contamination at selected Great Lakes AOC. The Risk Assessment-Modeling Work Group was charged with evaluating the ecological impacts resulting from contaminated sediments and developing techniques for evaluating various remedial alternatives. The Engineering-Technology Work Group evaluated procedures for removal and remediation of contaminated sediments and the Communications-Liaison Work Group facilitated flow of information between Work Groups and to the public. The Activities Integration Committee had oversight over the entire ARCS program and coordinated Quality Control and Quality Assurance (Ross et al. 1992).

The sediment assessment procedures conducted by the National Fisheries Contaminant Research Center (NFCRC) on samples from Indiana Harbor, Buffalo River, and Saginaw River included: Elutriate Toxicity Tests (Chapters 2 and 3), Whole Sediment Toxicity Tests (Chapter 4), Benthic Community Structure (Chapter 5), and Mutagenicity (Chapter 6) and Genotoxicity (Chapter 7) Assays. A separate project by Wright State University (WSU) provided additional toxicity information on splits of select sediment samples from each AOC (Burton et al. 1992). The NFCRC and WSU projects were designed to evaluate sediment evaluation procedures suggested by both the International Joint Commission (International Joint Commission 1988a, 1989) and ASTM (ASTM E 1383-92).

CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS

GENERAL

CHAPTER 2: ELUTRIATE TOXICITY TESTS: DAPHNIA MAGNA AND MICROTOX

CHAPTER 3: ELUTRIATE TOXICITY TESTS: SELENASTRUM CAPRICORNUTUM

CHAPTER 4: WHOLE SEDIMENT TOXICITY TESTS

CHAPTER 5: BENTHIC COMMUNITY STRUCTURE EVALUATIONS

CHAPTER 6: AMES MUTAGENICITY ASSAY

CHAPTER 7: MUTATOX GENOTOXICITY ASSAY


REFERENCES CITED IN THE INTRODUCTION

American Society For Testing and Materials. 1992. E 1383-92 Standard Guide For Conducting Sediment Toxicity Tests with Freshwater Invertebrates. ASTM 1992 Annual Book of Standards. Volume 11.04, ASTM, Philadelphia, PA.

Burton, G.A., L. Burnett, P. Landrum, M. Henry, S. Klaine, and M. Swift. 1992. USEPA GLNPO ARCS Final Report: A Multi-Assay/Multi-Test Site Evaluation of Sediment Toxicity. March 31, 1992.

International Joint Commission. 1987. Report on Great Lakes Water Quality. Appendix A. Progress in Developing Remedial Action Plans for Areas of Concern in the Great Lakes Basin. Report to the International Joint Commission Great Lakes Water Quality Board, Windsor, Ontario.

International Joint Commission. 1988a. Procedures for the Assessment of Contaminated Sediment Problems in the Great Lakes. Sediment Subcommittee and its Assessment Work Group Report to the International Joint Commission Great Lakes Water Quality Board, Windsor, Ontario.

International Joint Commission. 1988b. Options for the Remediation of Contaminated Sediments in the Great Lakes. Sediment Subcommittee and its Remedial Options Work Group Report to the International Joint Commission Great Lakes Water Quality Board, Windsor, Ontario.

International Joint Commission. 1989. Guidance on Characterization of Toxic Substances Problems in Areas of Concern in the Great Lakes Basin. Report from the Surveillance Work Group to the International Joint Commission Great Lakes Water Quality Board, Windsor, Ontario.

Ross, P.E., G.A. Burton, Jr., E.A. Crecelius, J.C. Filkins, J.P. Giesy, Jr., C.G. Ingersoll, P.F. Landrum, M.J. Mac, T.J. Murphy, J.E. Rathbun, V.E. Smith, H.E. Tatem, R.W. Taylor. Assessment of Sediment Contamination at Great Lakes Areas of Concern: The ARCS Program Toxicity-Chemistry Work Group Strategy. In Press.


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