WEDA Pacific Chapter Meets in Portland to Discuss Sediment Treatment, Safety and More

The Western Dredging Association (WEDA) Pacific Chapter held its fall conference from October 25 to 27 in Portland, Oregon. About 120 people attended, including representatives from dredging and environment companies, various offices of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and engineering firms.

The Corps of Engineers in each West Coast district opened the first day with a review of ongoing dredging projects and those planned for the coming year. The presenters highlighted the type of dredge for each project, as well as amount of material to be moved and where it will be placed. The information included both projects with private contractors and those using government dredges.

Next, WEDA President Marcel Hermans, opened the floor to any discussion that the audience wanted to have. Topics included how the Corps can help move permits faster, how to work with regulators through an association or through regular contact, the issues of placing regulatory power with states instead of the federal government, how to change the perception of dredging and dredged material as “bad for the environment,” the issues surrounding dredged material placement, and finally safety. Hermans closed the session by telling the group that WEDA has developed a Dredging 101 course designed to teach regulators about the process and equipment used for dredging. The idea is to take the course to different regions.

The second day opened with a welcome from Lieutenant John Cunningham of the Portland District Corps of Engineers. He gave an overview of the economic and dredging activity occurring on the Columbia and Snake Rivers.

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The day continued with a series of educational sessions. Peggy Myre of EXA Data and Mapping Services, gave a progress report on an eight-year project to create a dredge and disposal database for the San Francisco District. It can be used for current project tracking, historical data and long-term planning, as well as provide guidance on sediment characterization and why some sediments are considered contaminated.

Continuing the focus on sediment, presenters from Latitude Environmental and Anchor QEA discussed California’s studies to determine what dredged materials could be beneficially used and what is suitable for in-water disposal. “What was clean yesterday may not be seen as clean going forward,” was the warning Steve Cappellino gave, highlighting the industry has to continue to demonstrate that contaminants won’t leach through caps or otherwise seep out to pollute waterways, if nearshore disposal is ever to be a real option for disposal.

Larry Smith with the Corps Los Angeles District, followed with a presentation on the environmental issues the Corps must address with maintenance dredging, including invasive species, contaminants of concern and the effects on special status species.

Jase Ousley, dredging contract specialist with the Portland District, compared dredging activity between a site on the East Coast in Kings Bay to that of dredging on the Columbia River, emphasizing that the West Coast goal is generally to control water, while the East Coast desire is to control the coast or anchor the beach.

Just prior to the first networking break, Paul LaMourie of Great Lakes Dredge and Dock gave an overview of its new articulated tug barge, the Ellis Island. The educational sessions continued with Jim Olsta of Huesker presenting the science behind a granular activated carbon cap and how it can best be used. Next, Dan Pickering of Dalton, Olmstead and Fugelvand and Ahsleigh Fines and Carmen Owen from Apex companies presented case studies on the placement of granular activated carbon in previously contaminated sections of the Lower Duwamish Waterway and the Lower Columbia Slough, highlighting placement considerations, permitting requirements and dredging process.

The group broke for lunch where Paul Sclafani of the Portland District gave a talk on Mount St. Helens, and later in the day the group did a brewery tour around Portland. The final day offered more educational sessions and a final business meeting.

Matthew Beachy from Ross Island Sand & Gravel talked about issues and solutions to recreational boaters coming too close to or even hitting submerged dredging pipelines. “Contractors have to be creative in slowing boaters,” he said, as many boaters have simply ignored signs warning of the pipelines and asking for no or slow wake.

“The next method we tried was patrol skiffs that were supposed to intercept boaters, but the boats were too slow,” he said and continued to talk about the high-speed vessel the company bought, which included flashing lights. The boat has been effective, as has the efforts to educate boaters at boat ramps and through marinas and fishing clubs. (See related article ‘Discussion of Pipeline Accidents Leads to Resolve to Standardize Signage’, IDR, July/August 2017, pp. 26-27.)

The presentations next veered back to science, with Nicole Pagano from Arcadis presenting a case study where lime was removed from one lake in Canada and piped to another lake, where it acted as a filter for the contaminated sediment present at that site.

Next, the audience was given an overview of the Larval Lamprey presented by Joe Krieter of Hart-Crowser, followed by a presentation by John Collins of AquaBlok on how different types of activated carbon show different performance in their ability to cap contaminates, and next Justin Wilkens of the Corps showed slides and video on using a benthic sled to record sea-life on the floor of waterways.

Kellee Christiansen of Anchor QEA wrapped up the pre-break sessions with a presentation on the design and construction challenges of a jetty remediation project in British Columbia. Of particular interest was that the site was suspected of having UXO (unexploded ordinance) so a barge had to be set up as a processing facility, meaning three barges in line were needed for the overall dredging project. Ben Starr of Integral Consulting kicked off the post-networking break sessions with a talk on the challenges of monitoring dredge residuals.

Next Randy Steed of Ross Island Sand & Gravel gave the history of 15 years of dredging in Stockton and Sacramento deltas in California. Kimbrie Gobbi of Amec, Foster & Wheeler presented a case study on the construction of San Diego Bay’s new floating dry dock, and finally Wesley Thomas of Arcadis presented “Technical Basis for and Negotiation of an Explanation of Significant Differences at a Former Wood Treatment Facility in Region 10.”

The conference concluded with a WEDA business meeting where Kimbrie Gobbi from Amec Foster Wheeler was elected as the newest board member. It was also announced that next year’s fall conference will be held in Hawaii with tentative dates, October 25 to 28.