Contamination and the dredging licencing

Licencing of dredging activities is based on environmental analysis, including measuring levels of contamination.

The contaminated dredged materials may upset the ecosystem balance at their disposal site. In these cases, officials take actions before the licence is granted.

The types of contaminants in the environment can change over time, due to new or modified human activity. The current levels were set 25 years ago. Since then some wider efforts have reduced the prevalence of some contaminants, whilst others have become more common.

Scientists from Cefas (Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science) have released a new scientific report. The report builds on data from the UK and around the world. It suggests new levels for the assessment of contamination appropriate in dredge material.

The report includes a summary of the background to the environmental scenarios tested, what the predicted outcomes will be, and proposed action levels.

Cefas held a workshop with representatives from government and the UK port and maritime industry in February which informed the report, and future direction required. The next round of workshops will take place in November.

Lead author of the report, Cefas Coastal Processes Scientist Claire Mason said:
“This workshop is an opportunity to bring together industry, science and government to develop a new Dredge Sediment Framework which protects our marine environment, the life it supports in a way which understands and works with sustainable human activities.”

At these workshops, the scientists will present their findings and engage with participants. These discussions will refine the development of an updated Dredge Sediment Management framework. Also, they will identify any challenges in the implementations of the proposed new action levels.

Photo: Image courtesy of USACE