On November 3rd, the Duke Superfund Research Center (DUSRC) sponsored and attended the Elizabeth River Project Sediment Remediation Partnership (ERPSRP) meeting. The ERPSRP is a group of stakeholders that meet to discuss updates about the health of the Elizabeth River, with a focus on cleaning up polluted river sediments. The most recent ERPSRP meeting was held in 2013. This year’s meeting focused on updates for three sediment remediation projects, sharing what is and what is not working at those sites, and moving sediment clean up projects and research forward in the Elizabeth River area.
Dr. Richard Di Giulio, Director of the Duke University Superfund Research Center and Investigator for Project 3, gave a presentation entitled: “Sediment toxicity and adaptation in Elizabeth River killifish populations at multiple sites in the Elizabeth River Under the Auspices of the Duke University Superfund Research Center.“ Dr. Di Giulio has spent his career at Duke studying a unique population of killifish in the Elizabeth River that have developed resistance to the developmental toxicity caused by polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH’s). A history of the Dr. Di Giulio’s research, called The Elizabeth River Story, can be viewed here.
The Elizabeth River was one of the most polluted rivers in the U.S., with several Superfund sites and significant residential pollution (e.g., fertilizer, pesticides, and bacteria). The mission of the Elizabeth River Project (ERP) is: “To restore the Elizabeth River to the highest practical level of environmental quality through government, business and community partnerships.” To that end, the work of ERP has led to the most improving water quality trends in the Chesapeake Bay area, representing 20 years of water quality progress.
To continue to address the industrial pollution and help meet the mission of the Elizabeth River Project, the ERPSRP meetings pull together people from the Navy, Hess Petroleum, Virginia Department of Environmental Quality, remediation consulting groups (like GEI Consultants and NiSource), the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the Virginia Institute of Marine Science (VIMS) at William & Mary, and the Duke SRC. At the ERPSRP meeting, presentations were given by ERP, GEI Consultants, and the U.S. EPA describing three very different sediment remediation projects, ranging in size and complexity. ERP led the Money Point Revitalization, leading to the return of 25 species of fish to a formerly polluted area.