Springer Online Journal Archives 1860-2000
Abstract We used geologic and geochemical techniques to document the change with time of the distribution and concentration of contaminated bottom sediments in southern Lake Champlain near an International Paper Company plant. Our work, initiated in 1972, was expanded on behalf of Vermont citizens in a class-action suit against the International Paper Company. To update our 1972–1973 results, we collected nine cores in 1988 upstream and downstream from the paper plant effluent diffuser. Water content, volatile solids, organic carbon, and three ratios, Al/Si, Cl/Si, and S/Si, in addition to megascopic and microscopic observations, were evaluated to identify and trace the distribution of effluent and to measure the thickness of sediment affected by or containing components of effluent. Analyses were carried out on samples from the cores as well as from effluent collected directly from the plant's waste treatment facility. In 1973, two years after the plant opened, we cored near the diffuser; sediment contaminated with effluent was 4.5 cm thick. In 1988, in the same area, sediment contaminated with effluent was 17 cm thick. In 15 years, water content increased from 72 to 85 percent, volatile solids from 7 to 20 percent, and organic carbon from 2 to 12 percent. Cl/Si and S/Si were high only near the diffuser and were zero elsewhere. In the area of the diffuser, contaminated sediment appears to be accumulating at a rate of about 1 cm/yr. At a control location 22 km upstream (south) from the plant, the top, poorly consoli-dated layer was only 1 cm or less thick both in 1973 and in 1988. The class-action suit was settled in favor of the plaintiffs for $5 million.
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