Dredging and removing Indiana Harbor sediment to take decades

2013-11-05T20:10:00Z 2013-11-05T22:57:08Z Dredging and removing Indiana Harbor sediment to take decadesBy Rob Earnshaw Times Correspondent nwitimes.com
November 05, 2013 8:10 pm  • 

HAMMOND │ Dredging and disposing sediment from the Indiana Harbor and Canal is slated to continue for decades, according to a Tuesday presentation by the Purdue Water Institute and Department of Mechanical Engineering.

Project manager Jennifer Miller, of the Chicago District U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, said the seminar was a way to increase awareness and education about the heavily industrialized Indiana Harbor area and the confined disposal facility created to allow for dredging at the site.

Dredging had been suspended for a 40-year period while the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers sought an acceptable disposal location for the heavily contaminated sediment. In 2011, a disposal facility was completed on land that once housed a refinery adjacent to the canal and off of Cline Avenue and Indianapolis Boulevard.

 “We plan to dredge 200,000 to 400,000 cubic yards of sediment a year until they’re done with the backlog, which is all the sediment that has accumulated over the last 40 years,” Miller said. “Then it’s assumed they’ll have to start over again.”

The backlog is expected to take about eight years. Dredging and disposing should last about 20 years. The ultimate end use of the land is yet to be determined.

But once it’s capped, the land will be used as green space that could include a park or sports field, officials said.

The heavily industrialized harbor area is the third busiest harbor by tonnage on the Great Lakes, and the condition of the sediment in the channel reflects the industrial past, Miller said.

“People don’t realize how economically significant this harbor is to the country,” Miller said.

Miller said sediment damages ships that plow through it, and ships stir up sediment, mixing contaminants into the waterway.

“It’s a bad thing for everybody,” Miller said.

The army corps has teamed up with the East Chicago Waterway Management District, the U.S. EPA, IDEM and local industry on the project.

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