Ottawa River Clean-up in Toledo, Ohio, Removes Contaminated Sediments that Pose Risk to People, Wildlife

SummaryFederal Great Lakes restoration funds support removal of 260,000 cubic yards of toxic sediments along a 5-mile stretch of the Ottawa River in Toledo, Ohio, that posed a risk to people and wildlife—including major sportfish such as walleye and perch.

Project name: Ottawa River sediment cleanup.

Location: Toledo, Ohio.

Description: Nearly 260,000 cubic yards of contaminated sediment was dredged from a 5.5-mile stretch of the Ottawa River in Toledo. For decades, the river was a major source of chemical pollutants entering Lake Erie’s Maumee Bay, where the contaminants harmed fish and wildlife. Crews worked around the clock to finish the project in six months; it was scheduled to take two years.

Project cost: $47 million, which was $2 million under budget.

Resource challenge addressed: Legal and illegal industrial waste discharges into the Ottawa River prior to the 1970s deposited large quantities of toxic chemicals in river bottom sediments. The pollutants made the river unsafe for humans and contaminated  western Lake Erie, prompting

The barge shown here holds booster pumps that help move contaminated sediment from the Ottawa River to the Hoffman Road Landfill. Photo from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

The barge shown here holds booster pumps that help move contaminated sediment from the Ottawa River to the Hoffman Road Landfill. Photo from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

advisories that urged people to limit their consumption of fish from the lake.

Key partners (public and private): The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency split the cleanup cost 50-50 with a consortium of businesses that included Allied Waste Industries, Chrysler LLC, the city of Toledo, DuPont Co., GenCorp Inc., Honeywell International Inc., Illinois Tool Works Inc., and United Technologies.

Types of jobs created: Dredge operators, truck drivers, environmental engineers, chemists, ecologists and biologists.

Results and accomplishments: The project brought about the removal of 260,000 cubic yards of toxic mud from the river bottom, which improved water quality in the river and reduced the volume of pollution flowing into Lake Erie. Crews removed more than 7,500 pounds of PCBs and more than 1 million pounds of heavy metals from the river. Those contaminants had made the river unfit for human use and contributed to advisories urging people to limit their consumption of fish from the river and its receiving water, Lake Erie’s Maumee Bay. The restoration project helped reduce the health risks to people and wildlife. Because more fish are caught every year in Lake Erie than in the other four Great Lakes combined, the cleanup was particularly significant for the lake’s thriving walleye and perch fisheries.

Web site: http://www.epa.gov/glla/ottawa/

Originally Published: October 9, 2011

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