State of the Art in the USA

Journal of Soils and Sediments

, Volume 7, Issue 6, pp 351-358

First online:

Sediment remediation: U.S. focus on capping and monitored natural recovery

Fourth International Battelle Conference on remediation of contaminated sediments
  • Ulrich FörstnerAffiliated withInstitute of Environmental Technology and Energy Economics, Hamburg University of Technology Email author 
  • , Sabine E. ApitzAffiliated withSEA Environmental Decisions, Ltd.

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The Battelle Conferences series represent the state-of-the-art of emerging technologies, science and management issues for contaminated sediment remediation. In the 2007 Conference held in Savannah, GA, two in situ technologies for cleanup sites were at the centre of interest: Sediment capping, a form of in situ containment, which involves the placement of a subaqueous covering of clean sediment and/or other materials to isolate contaminated sediments, and monitored natural recovery (MNR), where natural processes are used to mitigate the transfer of particle-bound contaminants into the water phase and/or biota. A third priority technology in the Superfund program, recommended by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), is environmental dredging, i.e., removing the sediments from the aquatic environment.

About 30 platform or poster presentations dealt with in situ capping as a technology, reflecting the rapid developments in this field, both in assessments and enhancements of ‘classic’ passive caps and the development and demonstration of active capping technologies. Issues relevant to monitored natural recovery were spread throughout many sessions; e.g., contaminant source identification, control, remediation strategies; innovative characterization and assessment, chemical/toxicological/biological measurements and characterization, bioavailability of contaminants, contaminant fate and transport and remediation effectiveness: defining, monitoring, and demonstrating success.

Presentations addressing the role of science and stakeholder input were complemented by discussions on the importance of data quality considerations, uncertainty analysis, and careful selection of reference sites highlighted the complex nature of these multidisciplinary assessments. Case studies, in which site-specific information was linked to regional management objectives, various approaches to watershed-scale assessment and management, and the role of ecosystem considerations, were all discussed in these sessions, as well as in a complementary panel discussion.

One compelling feature of the Savannah Conference 2007 (relative to the first couple of meetings) is that there were a much larger number of presentations that provided the tools, models, case studies, etc to fill in the lines of evidence that allow a fair comparison between removal and in situ management when appropriate, and evidence of a growing acceptance that the residuals and impacts of removal approaches can at times offset perceived benefits, so that in situ management can be considered if exposure risk can be properly assessed.


Environmental dredging monitored natural recovery (MNR) sediment capping sediment remediation USA