Environmental Earth Sciences

, Volume 69, Issue 6, pp 2103–2117 | Cite as

Sediment trace metals and PCB input history in Lake Anna, Virginia, USA

  • Ben K. Odhiambo
  • Virginia Brown
  • Gayle Armentrout
  • Leanna C. Giancarlo
  • Chelsea Wegner
Original Article


Damming of the North Anna River in 1972 created Lake Anna, a cooling water source for the Dominion nuclear power plant as well as a popular recreation site in Spotsylvania and Orange counties, Virginia, USA. Previously dated (210-Pb) sediment cores from seven locations within the lake and three locations in the adjoining Waste Heat Treatment Facilities (WHTF) were analyzed for trace metals (Al, Ba, Zn, Cd, Cu, Fe, Mn and Pb) and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) to examine the environmental evolution of the reservoir system. The reservoir has a history of mining activities in its watershed and unusually elevated concentrations of PCBs were found in fish tissues from previous studies. Therefore, dated sediment cores provided the framework for both the temporal and spatial analysis of possible sources and flux histories for both trace metals and PCBs. The trace metals results suggest that, though the upper reaches are relatively less impacted, the old mine tailings from the now ceased mining activities in the watershed of Contrary Creek tributary continue to dominate the sediment chemistry of the lower portion of the lake basin, signified by sediment enrichment of Pb, Cd, Cu, and Zn. Lagoon-2 of the WHTF also seems to be receiving unusually high loadings of Cd (12.5 ± 1.07 μg/g) that is probably associated with waste materials from the nuclear power plant that maintains the lagoons. PCB sediment concentrations were relatively low in the lower sections of the basins with values typically being <3.5 ng/g. The upper reaches of the basin had several PCB hotspots, with the surface sediments of Terry’s Run tributary having values as high as 53.13 ng/g. The spatial distribution of PCBs seems to suggest the upper reaches of the basin as the probable source, with the unusually high concentrations near bridges suggesting a possible link between the PCBs and old bridge fill materials. The oldest lacustrine sediments also had relatively high trace metals and PCB values signifying a probable role of soil disruption and sediment reconcentration during reservoir construction.


Trace metals Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCB) Lake Anna Sediments 



The authors would like thank the University of Mary Washington for funding some components of this project. Sediment chronology and PCB analysis was funded through The Army Corp of Engineers, Norfolk District and Virginia DEQ. We also wish to express our gratitude to Dr. D. Hydorn, M. Ricker, Dr. G. Woodwell, Dr. N. Tibert, and Elyse Clark for their support and contributions to the Lake Anna research effort.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ben K. Odhiambo
    • 1
  • Virginia Brown
    • 2
  • Gayle Armentrout
    • 3
  • Leanna C. Giancarlo
    • 3
  • Chelsea Wegner
    • 4
  1. 1.Department of Earth and Environmental SciencesUniversity of Mary WashingtonFredericksburgUSA
  2. 2.Department of Soil ScienceNorth Carolina State UniversityRaleighUSA
  3. 3.Department of ChemistryUniversity of Mary WashingtonFredericksburgUSA
  4. 4.Marine Science ProgramUniversity of South CarolinaColumbiaUSA

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