Active capping demonstration in the Anacostia river, Washington, D.C

Danny Reible, David Lampert, David Constant, Robert D. Mutch, Yuewei Zhu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

48 Scopus citations


An active capping demonstration project in Washington, D.C., is testing the ability to place sequestering agents on contaminated sediments using conventional equipment and evaluating their subsequent effectiveness relative to conventional passive sand sediment caps. Selected active capping materials include: (1) AquaBlokTM, a clay material for permeability control; (2) apatite, a phosphate mineral for metals control; (3) coke, an organic sequestration agent; and (4) sand material for a control cap. All of the materials, except coke, were placed in 8,000-ft test plots by a conventional clamshell method during March and April 2004. Coke was placed as a 1.25-cm layer in a laminated mat due to concerns related to settling of the material. Postcap sampling and analysis were conducted during the first, sixth, and eighteenth months after placement. Although postcap sampling is expected to continue for at least an additional 24 months, this article summarizes the results of the demonstration project and postcap sampling efforts up to 18 months. Conventional clamshell placement was found to be effective for placing relatively thin (six-inch) layers of active material. The viability of placing high-value or difficult-to-place material in a controlled manner was successfully demonstrated with the laminated mat. Postcap monitoring indicates that all cap materials effectively isolated contaminants, but it is not yet possible to differentiate between conventional sand and active cap layer performance. Monitoring of the permeability control layer indicated effective reductions in groundwater seepage rates through the cap, but also showed the potential for gas accumulation and irregular release. All of the cap materials show deposition of new contaminated sediment onto the surface of the caps, illustrating the importance of source control in maintaining sediment quality.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)39-53
Number of pages15
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2006


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