Contaminated Sediment Cleanup

To learn more about sediment cleanup in the Great Lakes, check out these websites:
Progress has been made in sediment remediation. As of 1998, partial or complete cleanups have been undertaken at 33 sites in six Great Lakes states. Visit the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Great Lakes National Program Office’s web site at:

Look for reports including Guidance for Capping Contaminated Sediments in Place and a 1998 report called Realizing Remediation.

There are numerous harbors and waterways within the Great Lakes Basin where contaminated sediments seriously impair their use. These contaminated areas have been labeled by the International Joint Commission as Areas of Concern (AOCs). For a map and descriptions of these AOCs, and updates of their cleanup status, go to the following page of the Great Lakes Information Network (GLIN) web site:

The Great Lakes Commission has a web site for the Great Lakes Dredging Team; a partnership of federal and state agencies to assure that dredging is done in a manner that meets environmental protection, restoration and enhancement goals. The web site includes information about environmental dredging for remediation:

Sediment remediation on the lower Fox River of Wisconsin began with pilot dredging of selected deposits of contaminated sediments in 1998-2000.  For differing views on cleanup of the lower Fox River, check out the following three web sites:

A brief case for the value of simulation in remediation:
Investigative simulation can be a valuable tool in  seeking to improve remediation performance, and lower costs. Simulation is used to:

  • explore and understand remediation processes and the relationships between separate remediation activities,
  • view a complex and dynamic system, providing insights into “how things work” in a way that traditional analytic methods cannot do,
  • discover both the existence and the degree of relationships, as well as the factors that significantly affect cost and performance, and
  • predict the consequences to performance and cost from regulatory limitations.
    optimize cost and performance through selection of equipment for particular project conditions.


Some helpful tools for making decisions about sediment cleanup:
New In 2007. The University of Wisconsin Sea Grant Institute has published a 50 page booklet titled: “Deciding About Sediment Remediation: A step-by-step guide to making the decisions by Philip Keillor, Editor.” This booklet is for those who are considering (or involved in planning) expensive clean-up of contaminated sediments.The booklet describes a step-by-step sequence of decisions to determine whether, and how, to clean up contaminated sediments, or to let natural recovery occur. More than that, the booklet summarizes the pioneering work of 26 researchers at four universities in the Great Lakes Basin; a project group who laid a foundation for numerical simulation of sediment remediation processes and cost optimization of sediment cleanup projects. The booklet is available in a paper copy (at $20 U.S.) or as a free download (.pdf document) at on “Contaminants” in the sidebar, on the left sidebar for this booklet and related publications, then click on the book title for a brief description, the free download, or purchase options. A direct download of the book is at the ASC Publications Store.

In 2002, a 83 page booklet titled:  Estimating Economic Benefits of Cleaning Up Contaminated Sediments in Great Lakes Areas of Concern was published, authored by resource economists Dr. John R. Stoll and Dr. Richard C. Bishop and coastal engineer Philip Keillor. Publication Number WISCU-T-02-001. Price: $5.00. The authors examine various methods and recommend a contingent valuation approach. They use as an example, a contingent valuation survey of Wisconsin residents to estimate the values placed on cleaning up contaminated sediments in the lower Fox River of the state.

Reprint of a peer-reviewed journal article titled: Optimization of Mechanical Dredging Operations for Sediment Remediation, authored by Carola A. Blazquez, Teresa M. Adams, and Philip Keillor. The 9 page article appeared in the Journal of Waterway, Port, Coastal, and Ocean Engineering, American Society of Civil Engineers, Vol. 127, No. 6, November/December 2001. pages 299-307.  The article describes how to use new REMSIM software to optimize the use of mechanical dredges and barges during sediment remediation projects.

Reprint of a 1993 European conference paper titled: Obstacles to the Remediation of Contaminated Soils and Sediments in North America at Reasonable Cost by J. Philip Keillor. The paper is from the Proceedings of the CATS II Congress: Characterization and Treatment of Contaminated Dredged Material, November 15-17, 1993, Antwerp, Belgium, sponsored by the Technological Institute of the Royal Flemish Society of Engineers. Reprint No. WISCU-R-93-025.  One of the obstacles identified is a lack of effort to optimize sediment remediation activities for the sake of cost and effectiveness.

Reprint of a 1996 European conference paper titled: Creating an Economic Decision Framework for Estimating the Benefits and Costs of Sediment Remediation. by Philip Keillor. The paper is from the Proceedings of the CATS III Congress on Characterization and Treatment of Clean-up Sludge from Dredging, Sewage Sludge, Dringking Water Sludge and Comparable Industrial Process Sludge, March 1996, Oostende, Belgium. G. De Schutter and R. Vanbrabant (Editors). Sonsored by the Royal Flemish Society of Engineers. Reprint No. WISCU-R-96-017. The reprint describes a decision framework developed by a team of researchers at four universities, led by the University of Wisconsin Sea Grant Institute, that uses REMSIM software as a principal tool.

Where to order these materials:
To get copies of the economic benefits booklet or reprints, contact Gene Clark at: