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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

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] Exit EPA disclaimer

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.


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