Environmental Geology

, Volume 1, Issue 6, pp 341-347

First online:

Distribution of pollutants from a new paper plant in southern Lake Champlain, Vermont and New York

  • D. L. MasonAffiliated withDepartment of Natural Resources, University of Michigan
  • , D. W. FolgerAffiliated withU.S. Geological Survey
  • , R. S. HauptAffiliated withOffice of the Attorney General, State of Vermont
  • , R. R. McGirrAffiliated withDepartment of Earth Sciences, Dartmouth College
  • , W. H. HoytAffiliated withDepartment of Geology, University of Delaware

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From November of 1973 to May of 1974, 15 arrays of sediment traps were placed along 33 km of southern Lake Champlain to sample the distribution of effluent from a large paper plant located on the western shore which had commenced operation in 1971. In the arrays located near the effluent diffuser pipeline as much as 2.3 cm of sediment accumulated, whereas elsewhere in the lake less than 1 cm accumulated. In the area of accelerated accumulation, sediments contained high concentrations of several components used in or derived from paper manufacturing. Values for kaolinite, expressed as the ratio of kaolinite to chlorite, for example, were as high as 1.4, anatase (TiO2) concentrations were as high as 0.8%, organic carbon 8.7%, and phosphorus 254 µg/g; all were more abundant than in sediments collected in traps to the south or north. In surficial bottom sediments collected near each array organic carbon and phosphorus were also higher (4.2% and 127 µg/g respectively) near the diffuser than elsewhere. Thus, the new plant after three years of production measurably affected the composition of suspended sediment and surficial bottom sediment despite the construction and use of extensive facilities to reduce the flow of pollutants to the lake.