Containment Assessment of Maintenance Dredged Material from the Houston Ship Channel Galveston Bay, Texas
Maintenance dredging of coastal waterways is a continuing process regulated by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. In Texas the Galveston District is responsible for issuing permits to dredge after they have been reviewed by several state and federal agencies. The potential to alter coastal estuaries and a concern over environmental contaminants impacting the biota are two issues associated with maintenance dredging that evoke public response. This study was designed to determine if maintenance material in the Houston Ship Channel is contaminated, and if the sediment bound contaminants have a pathway to the Galveston Bay biota. The study idea was generated jointly by the Galveston District of the Corps of Engineers and the Clear Lake Ecological Services Field Office of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Questions raised during review of our environmental impact assessment associated with a proposal to widen and deepen the Houston Ship Channel prompted the study. Funding was provided by the Construction-Operations Division of the Corps of Engineers, and the field work was provided by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Chemical analyses during the study were provided by contract laboratories to the Corps of Engineers, that were quality control tested by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency before the contracts were awarded.