Dredging A Challenging Area

One challenging aspect of the project 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 to dredging and backfilling here. River activities in this stretch began last year and will be completed this season.

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 fill barges with sediment, tugs push loaded barges to a narrow sliver of land situated on the eastern shoreline. There, standing water in the loaded barge is pumped off and piped to a larger barge in the land cut. Then, a long-reach excavator stationed on the property unloads the sediment from the loaded barge and places them into a sediment transfer bin situated on a concrete pad. Then, in a carefully orchestrated ballet of excavators and barges, a second excavator moves the sediments from the sediment transfer bin to a larger barge positioned in the Champlain Canal land cut. That barge then transports the sediments to GE’s Fort Edward processing facility where sediments are 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 is put into the river and clean backfill materials are staged for placement on the river bottom after dredging.