Dredging A Challenging Area

One challenging aspect of this season’s work is 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 have 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 must occur 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, will use a crane to place smaller dredges and hopper barges into the water to remove 160,000 cubic yards of sediment.

As dredges fill barges with sediment, a long-reach excavator will transfer the sediments to a lined bin on land, and then, in a carefully orchestrated ballet of excavators and barges, a second excavator will move the sediments to a barge positioned in the Champlain Canal land cut. That barge will transport the sediments to GE’s Fort Edward processing facility where sediments will be dewatered, the removed water will be treated and the sediments shipped by rail to federally permitted waste disposal facilities.

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

On the eastern shore of the river in Fort Edward, a small barge unloading station will be built. From this station, sediment will be transferred from barges in the river into barges in the Champlain Canal. Constructing this station will require moving heavy equipment over the Champlain Canal land cut, so a temporary causeway was built while the Canal is closed and empty for the winter. The temporary causeway will be removed before the Champlain Canal opens. At the end of the dredging season, after the land cut is drained as is routine each fall, the causeway will be rebuilt, so the equipment can be removed.