Environmental Pollution and Ecotoxicology in North Carolina
Our contaminants specialists collect and analyze data, search, collate and interpret toxicological literature, and conduct or review environmental risk assessments to foster cleanup of polluted sites, improve habitat conditions for fish and wildlife, and secure compensation for resources lost or degraded by hazardous waste releases or spills. Contaminant specialists are often called in by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, U.S. Coast Guard, or other Federal or State agencies responsible for cleaning up a contaminated area, to ensure that fish and wildlife and their habitat are adequately protected during, and upon completion of, the cleanup. Here’s a sampling:
A large phosphate mine in eastern North Carolina has soils with significant heavy metal contamination. Cadmium concentrations are 300-times background, and earthworms grown in those soils accumulate cadmium at concentrations indicating risk to worm-eating birds and small mammals. Our office provided the technical risk assessment and remedial alternatives review which framed options for consideration by stakeholders. Mine managers recently agreed to a cover of clean soil over the contaminated soils. This commitment, which was made a condition in their State-issued mining permit, will ultimately improve habitat over the 11,500-acre permitted mine area.
The Raleigh and Asheville field offices provided technical assistance to a major utility by conducting a sediment assessment at the Dillsboro Dam in western North Carolina. Proposed removal of the dam has caused concern over potential mobilization of accumulated sediments. Because there are no regulations that dictate the approach to be used in evaluating this issue, we used the framework of the technical guidance manual on disposal of dredged material in inland waters. Our review of existing data, an on-site assessment, and results of sediment chemistry indicated no significant sediment contamination. Our project report was used by the power company in their environmental assessment of the dam removal – an action that would restore a portion of the impounded river to its free flowing initial character. The Service contributed time to this project (file review, on-site sampling, reporting), and the power company funded all analytical chemistry.
Tom Augspurger, Ecologist, 919-856-4520 ext. 21
Sara Ward, Ecologist, 919-856-4520 ext. 30