Dredging A Challenging Area

One challenging aspect of this season’s work has been the removal of sediments from a two-mile section of the river near Fort Miller in Washington County that is inaccessible by boat. GE, EPA, the New York State Canal Corp., local elected officials and property owners worked together to develop a creative approach.

Normally, boats traveling north and south on the Hudson bypass this section by way of a “land cut,” essentially a water-filled channel that serves as a detour around two dams in the river. But dredging was required in 29 acres of this section of river that is inaccessible from the Champlain Canal, so GE’s contractors, working from a support area on shore, used a crane to place smaller dredges and hopper barges into the water.

As dredges filled barges with sediment, tugs pushed loaded barges to a narrow sliver of land situated on the eastern shoreline. There, standing water in the loaded barge was pumped off and piped to a larger barge in the land cut. Then, a long-reach excavator stationed on the property unloaded the sediment from the loaded barge and placed them into a sediment transfer bin situated on a concrete pad. Then, in a carefully orchestrated ballet of excavators and barges, a second excavator moved the sediments from the sediment transfer bin to a larger barge positioned in the Champlain Canal land cut. That barge then transported the sediments to GE’s Fort Edward processing facility where sediments were dewatered, the removed water treated and the sediments shipped by rail to federally permitted waste disposal facilities.

To support the operation, GE’s contractors built a shoreline operations support area on the west side of the river in Northumberland in 2014. From this area, equipment was put into the river and clean backfill materials were staged for placement on the river bottom after dredging.

Dredging in this stretch has been completed for the year and the placement of clean backfill in areas that have been dredged will be finished soon. Both activities will continue for a portion of the 2015 construction season. The facilities supporting dredging in this stretch of river will be winterized for the off-season and reactivated in the spring.