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Title: Preliminary Assessment of Potential Impacts to Dungeness Crabs from Disposal of Dredged Materials from the Columbia River

Abstract

Dredging of the Columbia River navigation channel has raised concerns about dredging-related impacts on Dungeness crabs (Cancer magister). The overall objectives of this effort are to synthesize what is known about disposal effects on Dungeness crabs (Phase 1) and to offer approaches to quantify the effects, including approaches to gain a population-level perspective on any effects found in subsequent studies (Phase 2). This report documents Phase 1, which included (1) development of a conceptual model to integrate knowledge about crab biology and the physical processes occurring during disposal, (2) application of physics-based numerical modeling of the disposal event to understand the physical forces and processes to which a crab might be exposed during disposal, (3) conduct of a vulnerability analysis to identify the potential mechanisms by which crabs may be injured, and (4) recommendations of topics and approaches for future studies to assess the potential population-level effects of disposal on Dungeness crabs. The conceptual model first recognizes that disposal of dredged materials is a physically dynamic process with three aspects: (1) convective descent and bottom encounter, (2) dynamic collapse and spreading, and (3) mounding. Numerical modeling was used to assess the magnitude of the potentially relevant forces and extent ofmore » mounding in single disposal events. The modeling outcomes show that predicted impact pressure, shear stress, and mound depth are greatly reduced by discharge in deep water, and somewhat reduced at longer discharge duration. The analysis of numerical modeling results and vulnerabilities indicate that the vulnerability of crabs to compression forces under any of the disposal scenarios is low. For the deep-water disposal scenarios, the maximum forces and mounding do not appear to be sufficiently high enough to warrant concern for surge currents or burial at the depths involved (over 230 ft). For the shallow-water (45 to 65 ft), short-duration disposal scenarios, the shear force and surge currents estimated from the modeling and observed previously in the field at Palos Verdes, California appear to be sufficiently high to mobilize and transport the bottom sediment and at least juvenile crab. Behavioral response to surge currents probably occurs and may reduce the occurrence and extent of movement and any associated impacts. There evidence that burial by dredged materials can effect crab survival, but confounding factors in previous experiments preclude conclusions about thresholds and extent of effects. We recommend that future studies focus on burial effects during shallow water, short duration disposal events and take into account the potential for behavioral responses to mitigate any effects.« less

Authors:
; ; ; ;
Publication Date:
Research Org.:
Pacific Northwest National Lab. (PNNL), Richland, WA (United States)
Sponsoring Org.:
USDOE
OSTI Identifier:
890722
Report Number(s):
PNNL-15477
400403209; TRN: US200620%%622
DOE Contract Number:
AC05-76RL01830
Resource Type:
Technical Report
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
54 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES; DREDGE SPOIL; MARINE DISPOSAL; ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACTS; CRABS; MATHEMATICAL MODELS; VULNERABILITY

Citation Formats

Pearson, Walter H., Miller, Martin C., Williams, Greg D., Kohn, Nancy P., and Skalski, John R.. Preliminary Assessment of Potential Impacts to Dungeness Crabs from Disposal of Dredged Materials from the Columbia River. United States: N. p., 2006. Web. doi:10.2172/890722.
Pearson, Walter H., Miller, Martin C., Williams, Greg D., Kohn, Nancy P., & Skalski, John R.. Preliminary Assessment of Potential Impacts to Dungeness Crabs from Disposal of Dredged Materials from the Columbia River. United States. doi:10.2172/890722.
Pearson, Walter H., Miller, Martin C., Williams, Greg D., Kohn, Nancy P., and Skalski, John R.. Wed . "Preliminary Assessment of Potential Impacts to Dungeness Crabs from Disposal of Dredged Materials from the Columbia River". United States. doi:10.2172/890722. https://www.osti.gov/servlets/purl/890722.
@article{osti_890722,
title = {Preliminary Assessment of Potential Impacts to Dungeness Crabs from Disposal of Dredged Materials from the Columbia River},
author = {Pearson, Walter H. and Miller, Martin C. and Williams, Greg D. and Kohn, Nancy P. and Skalski, John R.},
abstractNote = {Dredging of the Columbia River navigation channel has raised concerns about dredging-related impacts on Dungeness crabs (Cancer magister). The overall objectives of this effort are to synthesize what is known about disposal effects on Dungeness crabs (Phase 1) and to offer approaches to quantify the effects, including approaches to gain a population-level perspective on any effects found in subsequent studies (Phase 2). This report documents Phase 1, which included (1) development of a conceptual model to integrate knowledge about crab biology and the physical processes occurring during disposal, (2) application of physics-based numerical modeling of the disposal event to understand the physical forces and processes to which a crab might be exposed during disposal, (3) conduct of a vulnerability analysis to identify the potential mechanisms by which crabs may be injured, and (4) recommendations of topics and approaches for future studies to assess the potential population-level effects of disposal on Dungeness crabs. The conceptual model first recognizes that disposal of dredged materials is a physically dynamic process with three aspects: (1) convective descent and bottom encounter, (2) dynamic collapse and spreading, and (3) mounding. Numerical modeling was used to assess the magnitude of the potentially relevant forces and extent of mounding in single disposal events. The modeling outcomes show that predicted impact pressure, shear stress, and mound depth are greatly reduced by discharge in deep water, and somewhat reduced at longer discharge duration. The analysis of numerical modeling results and vulnerabilities indicate that the vulnerability of crabs to compression forces under any of the disposal scenarios is low. For the deep-water disposal scenarios, the maximum forces and mounding do not appear to be sufficiently high enough to warrant concern for surge currents or burial at the depths involved (over 230 ft). For the shallow-water (45 to 65 ft), short-duration disposal scenarios, the shear force and surge currents estimated from the modeling and observed previously in the field at Palos Verdes, California appear to be sufficiently high to mobilize and transport the bottom sediment and at least juvenile crab. Behavioral response to surge currents probably occurs and may reduce the occurrence and extent of movement and any associated impacts. There evidence that burial by dredged materials can effect crab survival, but confounding factors in previous experiments preclude conclusions about thresholds and extent of effects. We recommend that future studies focus on burial effects during shallow water, short duration disposal events and take into account the potential for behavioral responses to mitigate any effects.},
doi = {10.2172/890722},
journal = {},
number = ,
volume = ,
place = {United States},
year = {Wed Feb 01 00:00:00 EST 2006},
month = {Wed Feb 01 00:00:00 EST 2006}
}

Technical Report:

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  • Dredging of the Columbia River navigation channel has raised concerns about dredging-related impacts on Dungeness crabs (Cancer magister) in the estuary, mouth of the estuary, and nearshore ocean areas adjacent to the Columbia River. The Portland District, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers engaged the Marine Sciences Laboratory (MSL) of the U.S. Department of Energy’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory to review the state of knowledge and conduct studies concerning impacts on Dungeness crabs resulting from disposal during the Columbia River Channel Improvement Project and annual maintenance dredging in the mouth of the Columbia River. The present study concerns potential effects onmore » Dungeness crabs from dredged material disposal specific to the mouth of the Columbia River.« less
  • Annual maintenance of the Columbia River navigation channel requires the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) to dredge sediment from the river and dispose of the sediment in coastal areas at the mouth of the Columbia River. Some of these disposal areas can be as shallow as 12 m deep in waters off the coastal beaches, and dredged material disposal activities have therefore raised concerns of impacts to local razor clam (Siliqua patula) populations that are prevalent in the area. The Corps’ Portland District requested that the Marine Sciences Laboratory of the U.S. Department of Energy’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratorymore » conduct laboratory experiments to evaluate the potential impacts of burial by dredged material to razor clams during disposal. Prior modeling of disposal events indicates three stresses that could have an impact on benthic invertebrates: convective descent and bottom encounter (compression forces due to bottom impact), dynamic collapse and spreading (surge as material washes over the bottom), and mounding (burial by material). Because the razor clam is infaunal, the effects of the first two components should be minimal, because the clams should be protected by substrate that is not eroded in the event and by the clams’ rapid digging capabilities. The mound resulting from the disposal, however, would bury any clams remaining in the footprint under as much as 12 cm of new sediment according to modeling, and the clams’ reaction to such an event and to burial is not known. Although the literature suggests that razor clams may be negatively affected by siltation and therefore perhaps by dredging and disposal activity, as well, impacts of this type have not been demonstrated. The primary purpose of this study was to evaluate the potential impacts of dredge material disposal on adult subtidal razor clam populations at the mouth of the Columbia River. Using the parameters defined in a previous model, a laboratory study was created in which a slurry was added to experimental chambers seeded with adult razor clams to produce burial mounds of various thicknesses. The laboratory results presented here have two implications for disposal operations.« less
  • Past operations of Hanford Site facilities have contaminated the groundwater adjacent to the Hanford Reach of the Columbia River, Washington, with various chemical and radiological constituents. The groundwater is hydraulically connected to the river and contains concentrations of contaminants that sometimes exceed federal and/or state drinking water standards or standards for the protection of aquatic life. For example, concentrations of chromium in shoreline seeps and springs at most 100 Area operable units exceed concentrations found to be toxic to fish. Nitrate and tritium concentrations in shoreline seeps are generally below drinking water standards and concentrations potentially toxic to aquatic life,more » but nitrate concentrations may be high enough to synergistically interact with and exacerbate chromium toxicity. The Hanford Reach also supports the largest run of fall chinook salmon (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha) in the Columbia River Basin. Numbers of fall chinook salmon returning to the Hanford Reach have increased relative to other mainstem populations during the last 30 years. Groundwater discharge appears to occur near some salmon spawning areas, but contaminants are generally not detectable in surface water samples. The concentration and potential toxicity of contaminants in the interstitial waters of the substrate where fall chinook salmon embryogenesis occurs are presently unknown. New tools are required to characterize the extent of groundwater contaminant discharge to the Hanford Reach and to resolve uncertainties associated with assessment of potential impacts to fall chinook salmon.« less
  • Observations on the effects of water level fluctuations in the Hanford Reach of the Columbia River, Washington, were made in 1976 and 1977. The two years provided contrasting flow regimes: high water and fluctuations of greater magnitude prevailed in 1976; low water and higher temperatures prevailed in 1977. Situations where fish and other aquatic organisms were destroyed by changing water levels were observed and evaluated each year in three study areas: Hanford, F-Area, and White Bluffs sloughs. Losses primarily were due to stranding, entrapment (with or without complete dewatering), and predation. Juvenile fish were more susceptible to entrapment and strandingmore » than were adult fish. Estimates of actual losses were biased and conservative because relatively few fish could be found after each decline of water level and dewatering. The most valued species of fish affected by water level fluctuations at Hanford were the anadromus fall chinook salmon (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha) and the resident smallmouth bass (Micropterus dolomieui). Crucial periods for chinook salmon occurred during winter when incubating eggs were in the gravel of the main channel, and before and during seaward migration in the spring when fry were abundant in shoreline zones. The crucial period for smallmouth bass was during spring and early summer when adults were spawning in warmed sloughs and shoreline zones. Chinook salmon and smallmouth bass fry were vulnerable to stranding and entrapment, and smallmouth bass nests were susceptible to exposure and temperature changes resulting from repeated water level fluctuations. Thus, flow manipulation may be crucial to their survival. The extent to which other species of riverine fish were affected by water level fluctuations depended upon their use of shoreline zones for spawning and rearing young.« less
  • This assessment discusses the potential health and environmental impacts of transporting M55 rockets filled with nerve agent GB or VX from various existing Army storage depots to alternative Army depots for disposal. The origin depots include Anniston Army Depot in Alabama, Lexington-Blue Grass Depot Activity in Kentucky, and Umatilla Depot Activity in Oregon. The destination depots include Pine Bluff Arsenal in Arkansas, Tooele Army Depot in Utah, and the facility on Johnston Island in the central Pacific Ocean. This assessment considers the possible impacts of normal transport operations and of two postulated accident scenarios on the air quality, ground andmore » surface water, aquatic ecology, terrestrial ecology, human health, and cultural and socioeconomic resources of the various transport corridors involved. The impacts of these scenarios are assessed for truck, train, and air transport for each orgin-destination pair. The analysis considers three basic scenario during transport: (1) normal operations with no atmospheric release of nerve agent; (2) a minor agent spill (the contents of one rocket being released to the biosphere); and (3) a worst-case accident involving the release of a large, specified quantity of nerve agent to the biosphere. The extremely low probabilities of such accidents, which are reported elsewhere, are noted.« less