Pollutants dredged up, disposed of from the Black Rock Channel

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — Each time the giant crane dips into the water of Black Rock Channel, it pulls up ten tons of mud and sediment from the channel.

It would take roughly 20,000 dump trucks to haul out all of the mud and sediment being pulled from the bottom of the Black Rock Channel in July alone. It’s part of a $2 million dredging operation conducted by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Every minute, a huge floating crane scoops out another ten tons of sediment from the bottom of the Black Rock Channel. It’s being paid for through the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative.

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Project Manager, Michael Asquith says it serves two purposes; to keep the navigational channel deep enough and wide enough for ships to get through, and to remove a legacy of pollutants that have settled on the bottom.

“They would have some levels of PCBs, some levels of PAHs, maybe elevated metals and pesticides,” he said.

Every time a barge is filled with the polluted material, a tug boat pulls it away to a spot near the old Bethlehem Steel Property where it will be stored permanently in a lakeside disposal facility.

Only the water filtered through sand will get back into Lake Erie.

“Where we’re placing it is actually in a confined disposal facility. It’s a giant facility, 107 acres constructed back in 1977 and it was designed and built specifically for contaminated material,” Asquith said.

250,000 cubic yards of sediment from the Black Rock Channel will be stored there. Asquith says it’s the same place where contaminated sediment from the Buffalo River was taken last summer.

“And it’s what has allowed us to do all the environmental dredging in the City and out here on the Channel now,” Asquith said.

In addition to pulling up all that sediment, the scoop has even pulled up bikes, some shopping carts, and even a couple cars. This operation should be all wrapped up in a few weeks.

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