Testing of Dredged Material
Sediments are tested for possible contamination prior to any planned dredging to ensure that proposed dredging and the management of dredged material are conducted to minimize the potential pathways for contaminant exposure. EPA and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers have jointly developed comprehensive testing procedures, which may include physical, chemical and biological tests, to evaluate dredged material placed into ocean and inland waters. For dredged material placement options that are neither ocean nor open waters (such as use of dredged material as landfill cover, etc.,) the laws, regulations and requirements of the governing state will apply.
Evaluation of Test Results for Ocean Disposal
National Testing Guidelines
Laboratory and evaluation methods that apply to dredged material proposed for ocean disposal in accordance with the Marine Protection, Research and Sanctuaries Act (MPRSA) are published in the 1991 USEPA/USACE guidance document entitled "Ecological Evaluation for Dredged Material Proposed for Ocean Disposal in the Marine Environment ("Green Book"). For an overview of the Dredged Material Testing Framework, see EPA's Ocean Dumping Program Update (1996).
Regional Testing Guidelines
In an effort to tailor the national Green Book, EPA Region 2 and USACE New York District developed a regional implementation manual for New York/New Jersey Harbor entitled "Guidance for Performing Tests on Dredged Material Proposed for Ocean Disposal." This regional manual lists, for New York/New Jersey harbor, specific contaminants of concern, species approved for use in biological tests, required Quality Assurance /Quality Control and test acceptability parameters, and other pertinent information. For more information on the regional testing manual, please contact Charles LoBue.
Historic Area Remediation Site (HARS) Guidelines
Placement of dredged material from NY/NJ harbor for the purpose of remediation has been a topic of great public interest. The participation of EPA, USACE, state and local government agencies, and public groups and private industry are actively working together to ensure that this site maintains its principal functions as a remediation site and that current environmental standards are applied. To learn more about the different specimens and benthic organisms used for testing analyses of dredged material in NY/NJ harbor and the Non-Detect Policy regarding elutriate and tissue data, click here. For a better understanding of how EPA and USACE assess dredge material suitability for use as remediation material at the HARS for specific dredging projects, see Recent Projects.
Chronology of the HARS' Testing Evaluation Framework
- March 1996 In the NY/NJ Harbor Estuary Program (HEP) Comprehensive Conservation and Management Plan (CCMP), EPA Region 2 commits to conduct a public and scientific peer review process of its dredged material bioaccumulation testing evaluation framework to ensure that sound science is applied in its decision-making process.
- January 4, 1998 EPA Region 2 sends letter to NY/NJ Dredged Material Management Forum, inviting interested parties to participate in a workgroup to identify and recommend areas for review by the scientific peer review panel.
- March 27, 1998 First Criteria Workgroup meeting held. The main objectives of the meeting were to explain the scientific peer review process, present an overview of the HARS Testing Evaluation Framework, discuss the charge of the scientific peer reviewers and identify questions for the scientific peer reviewers.
- June 23, 1998 The final charge, with consensus for the workgroup, was given to the scientific peer reviewers. Note: The scientific peer review charge was limited to evaluation / interpretation of 28-day bioaccumulation test results. The charge did not include review of the bioassay toxicity tests and water column test evaluations and these evaluations are not proposed for modification.
- August 24, 1998 Scientific Peer Reviewers' comment period ended.
- March 15, 1999 Last review package was received; all comments were distributed to workgroup members. The comments can be viewed in the Scientific Peer Review of the HARS' Testing Evaluation Framework.
- September 27, 2000 The U.S. Department of the Army, U.S. EPA and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers signed a Memorandum of Agreement concerning new testing parameters that apply to dredged material and disposal at the HARS. (Note: this document is a PDF file, 125 KB which requires the use of Adobe Acrobat to view. Click on icon below to download Adobe Acrobat.
- October 23, 2000 First meeting of the Remediation Material Workgroup. EPA distributed the document for Proposed Changes to the Bioaccumulation Testing Evaluation Framework and Response to Scientific Peer Reviewers' Comments on the Existing Framework for Determining the Suitability of Dredged Material to be Placed at the Historic Area Remediation Site (HARS) (PDF file, 895 KB) for review and consideration.
Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands
Presently in the Caribbean, the only active ocean disposal site is San Juan harbor, Puerto Rico. For more information on their testing evaluation, please refer to their Site Management and Monitoring Plan. [PDF 280 KB, 23 pp]
Evaluation of Test Results for Inland Water Disposal
Laboratory and evaluation methods that apply to dredged material proposed for inland water disposal in accordance with the Clean Water Act (CWA) are published in the 1998 USEPA/USACE guidance document entitled "Evaluation of Dredged Material Proposed for Discharge in Waters of the United States - Testing Manual" or more commonly, "The Inland Testing Manual" (ITM). To date, no federal, regional document has been developed for NY/NJ harbor. EPA Region 2 collaborates with other EPA regions for areas such as the Great Lakes and Long Island Sound, that have their own site specific ITMs.