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Pollution and Waste Disposal Workshop

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A workshop was held on May 4-5 to review C&MP's activities addressing Pollution and Waste Disposal and to recommend future directions. Research addressing the transport and fate of contaminated sediments has been conducted by C&MP investigators for many years and has been a major component of the National Plan since 1994. Geology for a Changing World (Bohlen and others, 1998), which outlines a science strategy for the Geologic Division, recognized contamination of the environment as an issue of growing importance in the next decade.

The workshop was held at the WHFC and was co-hosted by Brad Butman (Eastern Region) and Homa Lee (Western Region). The thirty participants included C&MP staff and management, as well as representatives from other USGS Divisions (WRD and BRD), Federal Agencies (EPA and NOAA), State agencies (Massachusetts Water Resources Authority), and the private sector (Science Applications International Corporation and the New England Aquarium).

The first day included a series of presentations reviewing work carried out as part of the Program over the last five years, summarizing current agency programs, identifying opportunities for collaboration, and outlining new directions. The second day included a series of discussions addressing: (1) major results and characteristics of the past program, (2) scientific questions and the USGS role in pollution studies, (3) new directions, (4) impact and products, (5) staffing, (6) facilities and equipment, and (7) collaboration.

Some of the major findings from recent C&MP pollution studies include:

  • C&MP pollution projects have provided a new and unique, regional, multi-disciplinary framework used by scientists and managers.

  • Contaminants are widespread around metropolitan centers (higher concentrations and more widely distributed than previously thought). Contaminants are pervasive and long-term.

  • Basic physical processes, modified locally by topography, forcing, and source, control transport and fate of contaminants. The regional studies carried out by the C&MP have documented a variety of transport processes and sedimentary regimes.

  • High-resolution mapping (sidescan sonar, multibeam sonar, and high-resolution geophysics) and sampling allow assessment of contaminant inventories and long-term impact on scales from a few meters to kilometers.

  • Three-dimensional hydrodynamic modeling, coupled with the regional geologic mapping and process studies, provides a predictive capability for the fate of contaminated sediments in the coastal ocean.

  • Projects have developed an extensive baseline of contaminant levels in sediments that can be used to document long-term change and climate variability.

Some of the Workshop recommendations include:

  • Increase scientific synthesis, both at the project and the national level.

  • Increase impact of studies through development and distribution of selected products.

  • Continue regional, multidisciplinary studies, including follow-up studies to 5-year projects.

  • Expand development of coupled hydrodynamic and sediment transport models and apply them to selected regional studies.

  • Develop and maintain national contaminated-sediment databases.

  • Continue and increase collaboration and coordination within the C&MP.

  • Continue and increase collaboration and program development with other agencies and institutions.

A workshop report, including complete recommendations for future directions, will be completed by the end of FY '99.

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in this issue: Fieldwork Navassa Island Field Trip

Cruise News: R/V Gilbert

Florida Wetlands

Outreach Montessori Academy Volunteer

Students Visit Woods Hole

Meetings Conserving Our Coast

Women's Advisory Committee

Long Island Coring

Pollution & Waste Disposal

Staff & Center News cover story:
New St. Pete Chief Scientist

Woods Hole: Multi-Agency Center

NYC Estuary System Tour

Gas Hydrates Bill Testimony

New Staff


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