[Date Prev][Date Next][Date Index]

National Sediment Inventory

National Sediment Inventory 

For more information, contact the Coast Alliance at coast@igc.org


Fellow clean water/clean sediments fans, 

For your information, the Coast Alliance has pulled together a press
release to respond to EPA's release of the long-awaited national sediment
inventory. They list 96 waterways that are most severely impacted. 

If any local groups are interested in issuing a similar release, please
feel free to use all or part of what follows. Also, for the list of
impacted waterways, you can check EPA's web page
(http://www.epa.gov/OST/Events/sedlist.html) or call Nevette at Coast
Alliance (202) 546-9554. Also, feel free to list Nevette or myself as

The New York Times has already written on the issue, but we don't think it
has been picked up in any local markets so far. 


Jackie Savitz 

Environmental Groups Applaud EPA's Sediment Inventory Report Calls for
Pollution Prevention and Cleanup

WASHINGTON -- Coastal groups around the country today applauded the
Environmental Protection Agency's release of the long-awaited report on
toxic contamination in sediments. The report, a three volume inventory of
contaminated sediments was requested by Congress in 1992, and was released
late last week, three years behind schedule. 

Pollution released into rivers, lakes, bays and estuaries often settles
onto the mud that lines these waterbodies. Fish live and feed on or in
these muds, and take-up many of the contaminants. According to the EPA,
consumption of contaminated fish is a major source of human exposure to
toxic chemicals such as mercury and dioxin. 

Besides listing water-bodies that are most impacted by contaminants, the
inventory also includes the following findings: 
•Roughly 37 million pounds of chemicals are discharged by point sources
(factories and power plants and sewage treatment plants) each year. •The
most signifcant source of toxic pollutants to sediment are sewage treatment
plants, which receive toxic wastes from industrial facilities. •Following
sewage treatment plants, other major sources are organic chemical
manufacturers, pulp and paper industries, and metal products and machinery
companies, in that order. •Chemicals with characteristics that make them
likely to contaminate sediments include the pesticides toxaphene and
hexachlorobenzene, silver, dioxin, dichlorobenzidine and polychlorinated
biphenyls (PCB's). •The areas most likely to have polluted sediments from
point sources include the mid-Atlantic coast, southern piedmont, Great
Lakes, Ohio Valley, California coast and northwestern Washington state. 

"Toxics in America's sediments are both a legacy of the industrial age, and
an ongoing problem" said Beth Milleman, an expert on sediment contamination
and former Executive Director of the Coast Alliance. "This report shows
that our waters won't be safe to fish and swim in until we address the
problem from the bottom up, starting with the sediments which line all of
our waterways." 

"The site inventory shows that in many areas, sediments are beyond safe
levels of contamination, making fish consumption dangerous" said Jacqueline
Savitz, a toxicologist, and Executive Director of the Coast Alliance. "The
need for pollution prevention and criteria for assessing sediment
contamination has never been more clear." 

A coalition of environmental organizations led by the Coast Alliance has
been encouraging EPA to release the Inventory for nearly two years. In
early December, the Alliance placed the Inventory's release as a top
priority, and asked that it be released immediately. "This is a roadmap and
a major milestone on the road to clean sediments and safe fish," Savitz
added. "The next steps will be to finalize criteria for assessing the
toxicity of sediments, and for Congress to use this new report as a guide
to start cleaning them up." 

The Coast Alliance is an environmental research and education organization,
dedicated to protecting ocean resources and the nation's four coasts. The
Alliance coordinates a national network of more than 300 grassroots
organizations working to prevent water pollution and to protect coastal

Copies of the EPA report can be obtained by calling NCES 800 490 9198.
Copies of the Coast Alliance's 1996 Citizen's Summary can be obtained by
calling 202-546-9554. AREAS OF PROBABLE CONCERN

The National Sediment Inventory data identified 96 watersheds throughout
the United States as containing "Areas of Probable Concern." These
watersheds represent about 7 percent of all watersheds surveyed in the
United States (96 of 1,363). This classification could result from
extensive sampling throughout a watershed, or from intensive sampling at a
single contaminated location or a few contaminated locations. For more
detailed information concerning individual watersheds containing "Areas of
Probable Concern," please consult Volume 2: Data Summaries for Watersheds
Containing Areas of Probable Concern (APCs) (EPA 823-R-97-007) of this