Contaminated Sediment Data

Indiana Department of Environmental Management, Office of Land Quality personnel have compiled information on the impacts of contamination to riverine sediments in the Calumet waterways from the report referred to as the "Sediment Injury Report" by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service:

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 2000, An Assessment of Sediment Injury in the Grand Calumet, Indiana Harbor Canal, Indiana Harbor, and the Near Shore Areas of Lake Michigan. Volumes 1-4. 1082 p.

            The following is excerpted and modified from the Sediment Injury Report (USFWS, 2000):

Sediments are the foundation of an aquatic ecosystem.  They are essential in terms of maintaining the structure (assemblage of organisms in the system) and function (processes that occur in the system) of riverine ecologies. Contaminated sediments adversely affect an aquatic ecology on a fundamental level causing injury to sediment dwelling organisms, fish and wildlife resources.
Found in these sediments are constituents of many classes of compounds and elements (polychlorinated biphenyls (PCB), metals, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH)) at very high and toxic concentrations. The data presented in the following pages show a measure of the PAH levels that are impacting the benthic community in the waterways. The measure used is the mean Probable Effect Concentration-Quotient (PEC-Q), and a value of 0.7 PEC-Q or greater is chronically toxic to sediment-dwelling organisms. For these sediments, the frequency of sediment toxicity is greater than 50%, severely impacting the benthic community. Similarly, fish and wildlife communities are adversely affected by ambient conditions throughout the waterways.

A quasi-three-dimensional (3-D) bathymetric model of the Calumet Waterways assessment area located in northern Lake County, Indiana, has been developed by personnel at the Indiana Department of Environmental Management (IDEM). In addition, a continuous raster data layer has also been developed to show the spatial distribution of mean Probable Effect Concentration-Quotient (PEC-Q) values for polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH) in surficial sediments in the assessment area. The PEC-Q values are used to measure the amount of impact to waterways by contaminated sediments. The maps show the spatial distribution of contamination levels found in the surficial sediments of the waterway.

The sediments layer was derived from a database that compiles of data from 49 sediment characterization studies. The sediment characterization studies date from 1972 through 2005, and were contracted by many different local, state, and federal agencies. The data was compiled to support "An Assessment of Sediment Injury in the Grand Calumet, Indiana Harbor Canal, Indiana Harbor, and the Near Shore Areas of Lake Michigan" (US Fish and Wildlife Service, 2000).  The assessment is an evaluation of the harmful effects of sediment-associated contaminants in the Calumet waterways.  The results of this evaluation demonstrate that sediments throughout the waterways have been injured due to discharges of oil or releases of other hazardous substances.

Bathymetric data were provided by Tetra Tech LLC and the US Army Corps of Engineers, Chicago District. The sediment injury (PEC-Q) data for PAHs in surficial sediments were derived from USFWS (2000). The bathymetric elevation model and continuous PEC-Q data were compiled and processed by personnel of the Indiana Department of Environmental Management (IDEM).

Download the IDEM synopsis of sediment contamination in the Calumet waterways (PDF, 3.6 MB)

Info to know

Remediation efforts are underway in many areas of the LakeRim region in northwestern Indiana.

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