Water Resources:

Future Needs for Confining Contaminated Sediment in the Great Lakes Region

RCED-92-89: Published: Jul 17, 1992. Publicly Released: Aug 17, 1992.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed: (1) the status of the confined disposal facilities (CDF) currently being used in the Great Lakes to store contaminated dredged sediments; (2) the long-term need for CDF in the region; and (3) difficulties in locating sites for future CDF.

GAO found that: (1) most federally funded CDF will be filled to capacity by 2006, and funding for new, replacement, and expanded CDF is undergoing a policy and legal review; (2) pollution control efforts in the Great Lake region need improvement, since past efforts have not eliminated or cleaned up sediment contamination; (3) future sediment testing guidelines will be stricter and will increase the need for CDF; (4) economically feasible alternatives to CDF are limited and costly; (5) delays in finding acceptable sites for CDF have delayed dredging and navigation in some Great Lakes harbors and channels; (6) Army Corps of Engineers disagreement with state water quality standards has deferred and reduced dredging in the Great Lakes; and (7) increased CDF costs and site maintenance may be a long-term responsibility of local sponsors.

Recommendation for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The Army stated it had plans to develop the information GAO recommended before the GAO report was issued. It stated the data would be completed by FY 1999.

    Recommendation: To provide Congress and local sponsors with information that would be useful in deliberations on the problem of future dredging and disposal of contaminated material in the Great Lakes, once the revised sediment testing guidelines and criteria are issued, the Chief, Army Corps of Engineers, should estimate the needed CDF capacity. The estimates should include: (1) detailed projections of the volume of contaminated material to be generated by future Great Lakes dredging projects; and (2) the capacity, locations, and cost of new or replacement CDF that will be needed in the Great Lakes for the forseeable future.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense: Department of the Army: Corps of Engineers


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