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Remedial Action Plans (RAPs)

Frequent Acronyms

In an effort to clean up the most polluted areas in the Great Lakes, the United States and Canada, in Annex 2 of the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement, committed to cooperate with State and Provincial Governments to ensure that Remedial Action Plans (RAPs) are developed and implemented for all designated Areas of Concern (AoCs) in the Great Lakes basin. Forty-three AoCs have been identified: 26 located entirely within the United States; 12 located wholly within Canada; and five that are shared by both countries. RAPs are being developed for each of these AoCs to address impairments to any one of 14 beneficial uses (e.g., restrictions on fish and wildlife consumption, dredging activities, or drinking water consumption) associated with these areas.

RAPs are developed and implemented through an ecosystem based, multi-media approach for assessing and remediating impaired uses. The RAP process is a model of grassroots environmental democracy, stressing empowerment of the affected public within AoCs. States approach RAPs in differing ways. Some have a "hands-on" style of involvement in the process while others delegate much of the decision-making to local groups or agencies within the AoC. These approaches are complemented by Federal technical and financial support and where necessary, the application of federal statutes and authorities. The eight Great Lakes States and the Province of Ontario have the lead in preparing and implementing the RAPs, which is complemented by vital input and expertise of other Federal agencies and organizations as well as local governments, industrial and environmental groups and individual citizens.

A RAP is developed in three stages: Stage I identifies and assesses use impairments, and identifies the sources of the stresses from all media in the AoC; Stage II identifies proposed remedial actions and their method of implementation; and Stage III documents evidence that uses have been restored. It is important to note that, in practice, these stages often overlap, and that the RAPs often become iterative documents, representing the current state of knowledge, planning and remedial activity in the AoC.

Successful RAPs are community driven, with active Federal, State and local involvement. The affected community, which is closest to and most directly affected by the resource, in concert with other stakeholders, is empowered to create a future vision for the AoC, a vision generated by the group that will be directly affected by the decisions made. It is important to note that solutions for problems in AoCs and other local, geographically focused efforts do not fall into the "one size fits all" category. Each of these areas will have a unique blend of circumstances and solutions based upon the complexities of the issues that must be addressed.

The success of the RAPs will ultimately be measured by the degree to which all beneficial uses in the AoC are restored and protected. On a smaller scale, progress is celebrated with the completion of each of the individual implementation projects. Through the ongoing monitoring and assessment projects, progress is measured in many ways; through reductions in toxic or bioaccumulative chemicals in the sediments or in the water column, restoration of critical habitat, source reductions through individual, municipal and industrial pollution prevention efforts, implementation of agricultural best management practices, and either voluntary or enforced point source controls.  There have been 24 sediment remediation projects undertaken in 14 different Areas of Concern.

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Sediment Remediation Projects

Manistique River
  • In 1995-1996, approximately 14,000 m3 of Polychlorinated Biphenyl (PCB)-contaminated sediment near the North Bay/U.S. 2 Highway was removed and disposed of in a nearby landfill. The remainder of the PCB-contaminated sediment will be addressed by the end of 1998. When the final removal is completed, approximately 92,000 m3 of contaminated sediment will have been dredged from the river and shipped off-site for disposal. The total project cost is estimated at $16 million.
Lower Menominee River
  • In 1993-1994, approximately 11,500 m3 of bulk paint sludge was removed by mechanical dredging and transported to a nearby Treatment, Storage, and Disposal facility. This was an emergency removal through administrative orders by the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ).
Milwaukee Estuary
  • In 1994, approximately 5,900 m3 of PCB-contaminated sediment was removed from behind Ruck Pond Dam. Over 95% of the mass of PCBs was removed from the system as a result of this project. The total project cost was $7.5 million.
  • In 1991, approximately 570,000 m3 of contaminated sediment with varying levels was isolated from the Milwaukee River by the removal of the North Avenue Dam. The cost involved with the isolation of the contaminated sediment was approximately $1,348,000.
Waukegan Harbor
  • As a result of a 1989 Consent Decree, Outboard Marine Corporation (OMC) provided $20 million for remediation of PCB-contaminated sediment. No soils or sediment above 50 mg/kg PCBs remain onsite, except those within containment cells. Approximately 30,000 m3 of contaminated sediment was dredged and placed in two separate containment cells.
Grand Calumet River
  • From 1994 to 1996, LTV Steel dredged approximately 89,000 m3 of contaminated sediment from a slip adjacent to Indiana Harbor. The total project cost was an estimated $14 million.
Collingwood Harbour
  • From 1992 to 1993, approximately 8,000 m3 of contaminated sediment was removed from the shipyard slips and adjacent areas in the harbour using the Pneuma airlift system. The total project cost, which included partners from the Ministry of Environment and Energy, Canada Steamship Lines, Transport Canada, and the Town of Collingwood, was an estimated $650,000.
Rouge River
  • The PCB-source area to Newburgh Lake (Evans Products Ditch Site) was recently addressed by the MDEQ with support from U.S. EPA. Completed in April 1997, approximately 7,300 m3 of PCB-contaminated stream sediment was removed and transported for disposal at a landfill in Michigan and hazardous waste disposal facility in New York. The total project cost was approximately $500,000.
  • In 1997, PCB-contaminated sediment is being removed from an impoundment (Newburgh Lake) in the Upper Rouge River and placed in a secure landfill. By the end of the project, approximately 306,000 m3 of PCB-contaminated sediment will be removed. The project is expected to be completed by July 1998. The total project cost is estimated at $11.8 million.
  • In 1986, 30,000 m3 of zinc-contaminated sediment was removed from the Lower Branch of the Rouge River by mechanical dredging and placed in cell #5 of the Corps of Engineers' Pointe Mouille Confined Disposal Facility on southwestern Lake Erie. All dredging and disposal activities were completed at an approximate cost of $1 million.
River Raisin
  • Starting in mid-July and running through the end of Setember 1997, Ford Motor Company in Monroe, Michigan removed approximately 20,000 m3 of PCB-contaminated sediment in a hot-spot adjacent to the shipping channel. The PCB-contaminated sediment has been disposed of in a TSCA cell that was built on the property of the Ford Monroe Plant.
Black River
  • In 1990, the USX/KOBE Steel Company removed over 38,000 m3 of PAH-contaminated sediment from the Black River mainstem in the areas of the former coke plant outfall. The total project cost, which was funded entirely by USX/KOBE, was $1.5 million.
Hamilton Harbour
  • In 1995, in situ capping used a layer of uncontaminated material to uniformly cover PCB-and PAH-contaminated sediment. The project was funded through the Great Lakes 2000 Cleanup Fund at a cost of $300,000. An additional $350,000 was provided by the National Water Research Institute to further monitor and evaluate the project.
  • From 1992 to 1994, there was in situ treatment of contaminated sediment in one industrial boat slip near the headwall area. Oxygen, iron oxide, and calcium carbonate were injected. This was a demonstration treatment to find the depth of contamination. The total project cost was estimated at $323,000.
St. Clair River
  • In 1996, Dow Chemical removed several thousand cubic meters of pentochlorophenol-contaminated sediment. The removal took place about 1 km south of the Cole Drain, about 30 m offshore. The total project cost was estimated at $350,000.
Detroit River
  • Removal of contaminated sediment in Monguagon Creek, a tributary to the Detroit River, was initiated in 1997. The project is funded largely by Elf Atochem North America Inc., with an estimated cost of $3 million. When the final removal is completed, approximately 12,250 m3 of contaminated sediment will have been dredged from the creek.
  • In 1993, approximately 3,075 m3 of contaminated sediment was removed by Wayne County near a marina by Elizabeth Park. The total project cost was estimated at $1.33 million.
Niagara River
  • In 1995, approximately 10,000 m3 of contaminated sediment was removed from the Welland River (Ontario) using an Amphibex dredge. The total project cost was estimated at $2.6 million.
  • In 1996, approximately 21,800 m3 of contaminated sediment was removed from the 102nd Street Embayment (New York).
  • In 1995, approximately 11,500 m3 of contaminated sediment was removed from Pettit Flume (New York).
  • In 1992, approximately 6,100 m3 of contaminated sediment was removed from Gill Creek (New York). The total project cost, which was funded entirely by DuPont, was approximately $10 million.
  • In 1990, approximately 13,000 m3 of dioxin-contaminated sediment from Black and Bergholtz Creeks (New York) was removed. The total project cost was approximately $14 million.
St. Lawrence River
  • The New York portion of the AOC involves three major large industrial sites. Ongoing remediation projects, as required by New York State and U.S. EPA, address land-based and contaminated river sediment. Some land-based projects involve shoreline and on-site wetland remediation. The contaminated river sediment projects at each industry include:
    • General Motors - During the summer of 1995, GM completed the major portion of its St. Lawrence dredging with the removal of approximately 11,500 m3 of PCB contaminated river sediment. The river work to date has cost $10 million. The extent of required treatment and disposal for the dredged materials is under review. Further river sediment remediation in a cove adjacent to the St. Regis Mohawk Tribe remains to be completed. Total project costs, including land-based actions with groundwater recovery and treatment, are estimated to cost as much as $70 million.
    • Reynolds Metals - The required contaminated river sediment removal project for the St. Lawrence River has not yet begun. This will include shoreline remediation. The land-based plant site remediation, which includes wetlands remediation, is nearing completion at a cost of $53.7 million. The contaminated river sediment work is estimated to cost an additional $57 million.
    • ALCOA - The major "hot-spot" at the plant outfall in the Grasse River was remediated in 1995 as part of a 'non-time critical removal action." This involved the removal of approximately 3,000 m3 of PCB contaminated river sediment. The results of this project are under review as is the feasibility of other remedial alternatives downstream from the outfall in the Grasse River up to the St. Lawrence River confluence. Major land-based inactive hazardous waste site remediation at the ALCOA plant site continues with 10 of the 14 Record of Decision sites now completed. Overall remediation costs are estimated to be in excess of $250 million.


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