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Buffalo River Restoration - Feasability Study

Buffalo River Restoration Project

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Final Feasibility Study on Buffalo River - Feasibility Study on Remediating Contaminated Sediments Released

The Feasibility Study (FS) for the Buffalo River has been completed. The report evaluated five options, known as 'alternatives,' for remediating contaminated sediments in the AOC. The FS recommends an alternative, the "Enhanced Protectiveness Dredging," which would include targeted removal and isolated capping of contaminated sediments as well as include habitat restoration.

Final Buffalo River Feasibility Study
Full Document Document Portions for Quicker Download
Final Buffalo River Feasibility Study (195 page PDF, 9.74 MB)
Final Buffalo River FS Appendices A-E (176 page PDF, 6.31 MB)
Final Buffalo River FS Appendix F: Ecology Engineering Evaluation Report
(99 page PDF 14.18 MB)

Summary of the Feasibility Study

The FS identifies and evaluates dredging, capping, and restoration technologies that would address contamination within the Buffalo River AOC. The FS also identifies the contaminants found in the AOC and the alternatives that most cost-effectively would address the potential ecological or human health risks associated with contaminated sediments. Details about the five alternatives that were evaluated, which ranged from "no action" to dredging and capping, are found in the FS.

Multiple contaminants of concern exist in the Buffalo River sediments, including but not limited to polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon (PAH), polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB), lead (Pb), and mercury (Hg). In general, the highest concentrations are located in the subsurface sediments from River Mile 3.5 to 5.5 and in the City Ship Canal.

The FS develops potential remedial alternatives that would protect human health and the environment and also be cost effective. The alternatives have been evaluated based on their potential to accomplish four objectives:

  1. Reduce exposure to humans and wildlife from direct sediment contact or through fish consumption by reducing the availability and/or concentration of contaminants in the sediment;
  2. Reduce exposure of wildlife and aquatic communities to harmful concentrations of contaminants;
  3. Reduce the potential for confined disposal of future dredged sediments (for routine navigational, commercial, and recreational purposes) by reducing contamination; and
  4. Implement a remedy that is compatible with the Buffalo River Remedial Advisory Committee's goal of protecting and restoring habitat and supporting wildlife.

Remedial Alternative

The Preferred Alternative "Enhanced Protectiveness Dredging" is recommended because it effectively and efficiently achieves the objectives outlined above by dredging in areas that currently do not meet the objectives. Monitoring would be done both during and after dredging to determine the remedy's effectiveness and to ensure adequate protection of ecological and human health.

The Preferred Alternative also includes capping at the end of City Ship Canal to create a viable area for habitat. In addition to this habitat rehabilitation project, five additional areas along the river have been identified for restoration and improvement of habitat.

This preferred remedy would protect human health in areas frequently accessed by the public, where the river's velocity could move bottom sediments, and/or where sediments have been historically disturbed by ship traffic.