Center for Contaminated Sediments

Studies in Dredged Material Management

Published July 24, 2013
Using the latest methods and tools, scientists at the Center for Contaminated Sediments hone the cutting edge of contaminated sediment research.

Using the latest methods and tools, scientists at the Center for Contaminated Sediments hone the cutting edge of contaminated sediment research.

At the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) Center for Contaminated Sediments (CCS), located in the USACE Engineer and Research Development Center’s (ERDC’s) Environmental Laboratory (EL), scientists and engineers conduct research and perform tests to assess and manage the impact of sediment contamination on the environment.

Improving Water, Air, and Land Quality Nationwide

No other Center offers as robust a clearinghouse of sound science, engineering principles, and technology in the assessment and management of contaminated sediments as the CCS. By sponsoring development of new initiatives and innovative technologies, the CCS nurtures an environment where researchers can expand existing expertise using the latest technologies.

Modern Research Complex Inspires Innovation

USACE established the CCS at the ERDC Vicksburg site, consolidating contaminated sediments knowledge and technology into a Center that provides state-of-the-art facilities and advanced capabilities, including:

  • The Environmental Toxicology Research Facility (ETRF) provides over 8,200 ft2of combined research space, including a toxicology laboratory; biochemistry and analytical laboratories; and an animal culture facility — all used to conduct a wide variety of environmental toxicology research. The toxicology laboratory is comprised of seven environmental chambers; six flow-through aquatic chambers; six temperature-regulated bath exposure chambers; and five state-of-the-art, computer-controlled environmental chambers for sediment, terrestrial, and aquatic ecotoxicology and bioaccumulation studies and the culturing of research organisms.
  • The Sediment Research Laboratory (SRL) is a state-of-the-art facility for evaluating clean and contaminated sediments’ physicochemical and biological processes and their interactions for process parameterization to support modeling and feasibility testing. The SRL is a 3600-ft2 facility with a 600-ft2 pit, a 300-ft2 wet laboratory, a 100-ft2, humidity-controlled room for gravimetric analysis of  marine sediments, a 1400-ft2 Annex, and the resources needed for addressing sediment treatment and disposal options while incorporating a scale close to a field environment. 
  • The Hazardous Waste Research Center (HWRC) provides a full service research and evaluation facility with safety equipment, a high-bay pilot studies area, and a large-scale pilot studies facility.
  • The Environmental Chemistry Branch (ECB), which provides a 10,000-ft2 of state-of-the-art laboratory, fully equipped with the latest in world-class instrumentation to support analytical chemistry and research and development. ECB’s computational chemists also utilize the DoD's High Performance Computing resources, including those available at the ERDC Distributed Shared Resource Center.

Expanding Research and Test Studies

For more than two decades, Corps engineers and scientists have collaborated with the Department of Defense, other federal and state agencies, academia, and the private sector to hone the cutting edge of contaminated sediment research.
Researchers at the CCS are advancing science, technology, and practice concerning contaminated sediments in a wide variety of areas, including:

  • Contaminated sediment fate and transport processes and modeling
  • Sediment toxicology
  • Contaminant bioavailability
  • Advanced sampling and analytical methods
  • Screening evaluations and environmental modeling
  • Contaminated sediment management and remediation
  • Environmental risk assessment

This ongoing work is a direct result of research and development activities funded in support of the Corps of Engineers dredging mission (through the Dredging Operations Environmental Research Program) and reimbursable work related to military cleanup activities, DoD’s Strategic Environmental Research and Development Program and the Environmental Security Technology Certification Program,  the Environmental Protection Agency's Superfund Program and the Great Lakes National Program Office (GLNPO), in addition to many other government and private organizations.

Applications in the Field

  • Science and engineering support to contaminated sediment Superfund sites, including Willamette River, OR; Hudson River; NY; Passaic River, NJ; Lower Duwamish Waterway, WA; Tittibawassi River, MI; Housatonic River, MA; Anniston, AL; in addition to many others
  • Sediment toxicity, bioaccumulation, and bioavailability assessment—Augusta Bay, Italy; Hackensack River, NJ, and many others
  • Contaminant bioaccumulation modeling and risk assessment—Moss Landing Harbor, CA; New York/New Jersey Harbor  
  • Testing and evaluation of contaminant pathway and disposal facility design requirements—Baldwin Ship Channel, Calif.
  • Technical review of feasibility study of dredging with wood debris in deep water—Silver Bay, Alaska
  • Design and construction of effective caps for environmental protection—Marina del Rey, Calif.
  • Selection and design for alternate disposal facilities in lieu of open water disposal—New York Harbor, NY/ NJ Dredged Material Management Plan

Contact, 601-634-3626, 601-634-3784
Updated 25 August 2020

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Video by Jared Eastman
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U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Engineer Research and Development Center
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