Office of Public Affairs
(315) 341-2265
Oct. 11, 2000
OSWEGO -- A team of researchers from Oswego State's Environmental Research Center received nearly $100,000 in funding to help solve a major environmental problem in New York state -- how to break down pollutants in sediments dredged from waterways.
Ronald Scrudato and James Pagano of the Environmental Research Center and G. Yull Rhee, a microbiologist with the Wadsworth Center of the New York State Department of Health, were granted $99,956 for their project on "Contaminant Degradation in Contained Disposal Facilities."
The grant is funded through the state Great Lakes Protection Fund and administered by the state Department of Environmental Conservation. Ten of 36 proposals were funded.
"Competition for funding was strong," said Gerry Mikol, Region 9 director of the DEC and a member of the committee that reviewed the proposals. "Not only did (the Oswego proposal) have technical merit, but also it meets the priorities of the state."
The problem of what to do with contaminated sediments from New York's rivers and streams is not only a real concern, but also a controversial one, according to Scrudato.
The debate continues about whether contaminated sediments should be dredged from riverbeds. Once contaminated sediments are removed, they are placed in contained disposal facilities, or CDFs for short. "Essentially, we are just storing them for a future time," Scrudato said.
What he and his colleagues hope to do is to figure out ways to make those storage facilities into reactors to break down the sediments into carbon dioxide and water.
They will seek ways to degrade PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls), dioxin and DDT, using a combination of technologies developed on campus and elsewhere.
They will bring sediments from the CDFs into the laboratory, where they will be treated in a large-scale reactor. Prime candidate sites from which to obtain the sediments are on the Hudson and St. Lawrence rivers.
The Environmental Research Center at Oswego has been working on PCB-contaminated sediments for about 10 years. While Scrudato and his staff have discovered ways to successfully break down the PCBs in water, solids are much harder to clean, because the contaminants attach themselves to the sediments.
"We are still looking at ways and mechanisms to handle the incredibly large volume of sediments with technologies to make them less of an environmental problem," Scrudato said.
"We hope to make a contribution to that overall process and shorten the time when PCBs can be broken down economically and effectively."
The project is a collaborative effort with Regenesis, a California-based corporation that works on contaminated sites throughout the world.
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CONTACT: Ronald Scrudato, 312-2883, and James Pagano, 312-3639

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