Publication Detail

Contaminated Sediments in Boston Harbor

Keith D. Stolzenbach, Eric Adams
170 pp.
MITSG 98-01
$45.00 DOM

Historically, civilization developed along coastlines, and society has treated these areas as if they had an unlimited capacity for wastes. Much of this waste becomes chemically associated with bottom sediments and, looking backward, we find that sediments in nearly all urban harbors or embayments bear the legacy of past waste disposal practices. Although the discharge of many toxic substances has been eliminated or is being reduced, the exposure of contaminated sediments to the water column presents a continuing threat to the ecosystem and to human health. Management of these sediments requires knowledge of their location and relative toxicity, the rate of exposure to the water column, and a method of removal and/or containment.

Here we focus on the sediments of Boston Harbor, along with nearby Massachusetts and Cape Cod Bays. This region was chosen for several reasons. First, the harbor is badly polluted. Second, there are several important civil engineering projects underway or pending, including the development of new wastewater treatment facilities, navigational dredging, and interstate highway construction; the way in which these projects are implemented will have a significant effect on harbor sediment quality. And finally, the harbor is in our backyard, making it a convenient area to study. While our focus is on Boston Harbor, we note that most of the issues addressed in our study are relevant to other contaminated harbors as well.

type: Books

Other publications by this author (as Lead)