The Department of Defense is responsible for numerous dredging projects in bays and harbors throughout the United States. Many of these occur in locations associated with past and current military activities. One unforeseen complication when dredging has been the discovery of military munitions within sediments, especially in dredging projects involving the first attempt to remove sediment over extended periods of time.
The presence of ordnance in dredged material presents two unique challenges. First, it poses a potential explosive safety hazard to dredging personnel and potential damage to equipment. Second, any subsequent beneficial use of dredged material must also address the possibility of the presence of ordnance presence and/or its removal.
The objective of this project was to demonstrate separation of military munitions from dredging material on a dredge while minimizing the impact on dredging production rates and/or operations and applying appropriate safety precautions. The researchers set out to identify an appropriate technology that would provide in-situ separation of entrained military munitions from dredge material in such a way as to reduce the need for dredge slurry post-dredging separation efforts in a feasible and cost efficient manner.
The demonstrators surveyed the domestic and international dredging community to determine if technology was available to accomplish in-situ separation of munitions from dredging material. The researchers determined that there is not a commercial off-the-shelf technology available that could accomplish the project objectives.
Until a technology is identified and successfully demonstrated to separate munitions from dredging material in-situ, current dredging practices will be implemented.