MIT Sea Grant Center for Coastal Resources
Conference on Dredged Material Management: Options and Environmental Considerations

December 3-6, 2000
Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Fishing Vessels
Fishing vessels at dock in Woods Hole, MA
New England and Mid Atlantic States Sea Grant College Programs and collaborators convened a conference on management of contaminated dredged materials. Topics included scientific and technical issues related to nearshore disposal choices, financial and legal issues and policy implications. Three concurrent one-day workshops were held on different topics regarding dredged material disposal management. The purpose of the conference was to review scientific and technical information and practical experience on the use of confined aquatic disposal cells, confined disposal facilities, and nearshore beneficial use disposal options as practical ways of managing contaminated sediment disposal. The six main topics of the conference were:

  • Confined Aquatic Disposal Cell

  • Beneficial Uses

  • Confined Disposal Facilities

  • Risk Assessment

  • Policy and Management of Contaminated Sediments

  • Tools and Techniques

Three parallel workshops, consisting of lectures and discussion. Summaries of two of the three workshops follow:

Use of Confined Aquatic Disposal Cells to Manage Sediments in Ports and Harbors
Options for disposal of contaminated sediment are limited by public perception, regulations, technical uncertainties and cost. The option selected for the Boston Harbor Navigation Improvement Project involves confined aquatic disposal (CAD) cells-constructed in-channel, filled with contaminated sediments dredged from nearby, and capped with clean sand. Although CAD cells appear technically and environmentally promising, accurate placement of dredged and capping materials depends on imprived understanding of several issues (e.g. geotechnical strength of recently placed sediments and their ability to support a cap, sediment resuspension and transport, contaminant fluxes through capping material, response of benthic communities to temporally and spatially varying sediment properties, optimal site selection, evaluation of environmental effectiveness). These topics and others were discussed with reference to field experiences in Boston Harbor and elsewhere, along with supporting theoretical and laboratory studies, and presented in a context for general application elsewhere.

Sediment Toxicity and Risk Assessment Tools: Where are We and Where Should We be Going?

The Use of Dredged Materials for Erosion Control and Wetlands Creation
Restoring damaged coastal ecosystems is a national priority since many vital areas providing essential ecosystem services to society have been damaged by overdevelopment. Hundreds of cubic kilometers of sediment are dredged each year for commercial and recreational purposes and discharged into land based disposal facilities or into the nation's oceans, estuaries, rivers and lakes. Dredged material containment facilities are nearing fill capacity or are already full; and designating new containment sites creates numerous social and economic conflicts. Dredged material is a very valuable resource for environmental enhancement projects such as restoring or establishing new wetlands, and for beach restoration and stabilization. Accelerating investigations of the environmental uses of dredged material on coastal areas may help stem the predicted impacts from rises and falls in sea level and make traditional disposal of dredged materials unnecessary. However, few studies have addressed the ecological aspects of dredged materials engineering, especially vital information on how materials placement is critical for creating ecologically functional environments. Interdisciplinary research is urgently needed to evaluate dredged materials, to select proper site selection and elevations, and to complete economic, social and legal assessments in order to generate new policies and procedures for the accelerated use of dredged material for environmental and social benefits.


Abstracts from most of the presentations are available online in both html and PDF format. Clicking on the respective links will take you to a page containing a list of abstracts in alphabetical order by the primary author's last name. The abstracts available in PDF format are arranged in groups of approximately ten abstracts per PDF document. A document containing all of the abstracts is also available in PDF format..


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  this page last updated on: 7 December, 2009