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Maintenance of Wilmington Harbor, MPRSA Section 103 Sediment Testing and Analysis, Wilmington, North Carolina

The Wilmington Harbor shipping channel spans 37 miles along the Cape Fear River in Brunswick and New Hanover counties and connects the Atlantic Ocean with port facilities at Wilmington, North Carolina. The harbor is one of North Carolina’s two deepwater ports and is a major contributor to the state’s economy.

ANAMAR was contracted by USACE Wilmington District to perform activities related to the Marine Protection, Research, and Sanctuaries Act of 1972 (MPRSA) and in support of the congressionally authorized Wilmington Harbor Federal Navigation Project and the North Carolina State Ports Authority. The purpose of this project was to assist USACE in determining the suitability of over 2.2 million cubic yards of dredged sediment for ocean disposal in the Wilmington Harbor ODMDS as required under the MPRSA. The dredging project was needed to maintain navigation efficiency and safety within the channels and basins of Wilmington Harbor.

Areas proposed for dredging were divided into a total of six project-specific dredging units (DUs) based on expected characteristics. A field effort was conducted in March 2013 involving sediment sampling using Ponar and modified Petersen grab samplers and collection of site water using a pneumatic pump. ANAMAR coordinated and directed field operations and worked closely with USACE and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to design sampling and analysis schemes, perform sample collection, subcontract laboratory analyses, and prepare final report deliverables. ANAMAR reviewed all data and produced a report summarizing the results of the physical, chemical, toxicological, and bioaccumulation analysis of sediment, elutriate, water, and tissue samples of the material proposed for dredging and ocean disposal. DU 6 (representing the entrance channel) was proposed for exclusion from further testing under 40 CFR §227.13(b) based the results of physical analysis. An MPRSA Section 103 sediment testing report was finalized by ANAMAR in September 2013 for use by USACE in obtaining concurrence from EPA for all six DUs using a maximum disposal capacity of between 2,800 and 9,000 cubic yards per barge load.

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