As GE works with EPA to evaluate options for dredging and backfilling in the land-locked area (the stretch of river south of Thompson Island Dam and north of Fort Miller Dam) a modified approach has been identified that revises the original plan described in a December 2013 project fact sheet.
Last year, GE announced preliminary plans to use 26 acres of riverfront property off West River Road in Northumberland to launch equipment from, load and off-load dredged materials, stage and load clean backfill materials, and support overall operations in the land-locked area.
After meetings with local elected officials and the public, GE and its contractors designed a creative solution to reduce the amount of trucking needed to support activities at this one location. With the support and cooperation of the New York State Canal Corporation, an alternative approach evolved with GE, its contractors and EPA that involves performing some of the necessary activities on a second property owned by the Canal Corporation on the east side of the river.
Under this new approach, which still requires EPA’s approval, barges loaded with dredged sediments will be pushed by tugs to a narrow sliver of land situated just south of the eastern portion of the Thompson Island Dam. The property is bordered by the Hudson River to the west, and the New York State Champlain Canal land-cut to the east.
Initially, standing water in a loaded barge will be pumped off and piped to a larger barge in the landcut.
Then, a long-reach excavator stationed on the property will unload the sediments from the loaded barge and place them into a sediment transfer bin situated on a concrete pad. A second long-reach excavator stationed on the property will move sediments from the sediment transfer bin to the larger barge in the land-cut. Essentially, sediments will be unloaded from a barge in the land-locked area of the river to land, then loaded from land to a barge in the land-cut, with no on-site processing, sediment separation or dewatering.
Any storm water that falls on the area where dredged sediments are temporarily staged will be collected and piped to holding tanks or a barge in the land-cut.
Once loaded, hopper barges will be pushed upriver by tugboats to the existing Fort Edward processing facility, where the sediments will be dewatered and loaded onto railcars for off-site disposal. Operations at the east side support property are expected to decrease the time required for approvals to perform river-related activities in the land-locked area and eliminate the need to construct a dewatering area for the land-locked work. Activities at the east side support property will likely be completed at the end of the 2014 season, at which point improvements made to the property will be removed and the property will be restored.
Transporting the sediments by barge from this location eliminates the need to transport dredged sediments by truck — the concept initially envisioned if dredged sediments were unloaded at a property on West River Road in the Town of Northumberland.
Only a small number of project personnel will work at the east side support location. These individuals will park their vehicles at an existing project parking lot on Route 4 and will access the support location via boat.
Under the new approach, backfill materials still will be transported by truck to the West River Road support property in Northumberland. Current estimates assume 3-5 trucks will enter the property, and 3-5 empty trucks will leave the property, each daylight hour work activities are performed in the river. Trucks delivering clean backfill materials will travel to and from the closest designated truck routes — Route 32 or Route 4 — as soon as possible.
The west side support property also will be used to move equipment into and out of the land-locked area, and as a parking location for field crews working on equipment in the land-locked area. All traffic entering and exiting the west side support location will use a new driveway to be constructed into the site.
GE and EPA will continue to coordinate with local elected officials and the public to minimize impacts during these activities.
Construction of the Support Properties
If approved by EPA, site preparation of the east side support property will begin in late February or early March 2014. Once initiated, it will take approximately two months to prepare the property for support of sediment unloading activities.
Weight restrictions on the existing bridges across the land-cut restrict the ability to transport needed equipment and materials to the east side support property. Instead, crews will construct a temporary causeway made of crushed stone across the Champlain Canal land-cut at the location (shown on the map on page 3). Tree trimming activities will follow as needed. Then, material from an area approximately 350 feet long on the land-cut side of the property will be excavated.
Excavated materials will be used to grade the sediment transfer area, with any excess material stockpiled at the support property. Excavated material will be returned once the land-locked area activities are completed.
A concrete pad will be placed over a flexible membrane liner to establish the sediment transfer area and the sediment transfer bin for unloaded sediments.
Construction equipment and materials supporting the construction will be staged at an existing parking lot on Route 4 and will access the support property using the temporary causeway.
Once the support property is operational, the landlocked (river) side of the shoreline will be excavated to create the necessary draft for moored barges. All of the excavated material from this side of the property will be loaded directly into barges in the land-cut for transport to the Fort Edward processing facility. The temporary causeway will be removed before the Champlain Canal is filled for the 2014 navigation season. Meanwhile, in early April 2014 , crews will begin site preparation activities at the west side support location.
A new driveway will be constructed on the property, and bins will be constructed for the various types of backfill material. A barge mooring bulkhead will be constructed to the east of the property and a conveyor system installed to support the loading of barges with backfill. In addition, a weigh station for trucks will be installed. Once work in the land-locked section is completed, all equipment and improvements to the two support areas will be removed and the sites will be restored.
Press Release, February 27, 2014