Track down survey of PCBs in three tributaries to the Niagara River Area of Concern (AOC)

Science Center Objects

Background Industrial discharges of toxic and bio-accumulating compounds to the Niagara River and its tributaries have occurred over many decades. High concentrations of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) have been found in samples of fish tissue from many locations, including three tributaries to the Niagara River: Tonawanda Creek, Two mile Creek, and Rattlesnake Creek (study reaches listed in T...

Background

Industrial discharges of toxic and bio-accumulating compounds to the Niagara River and its tributaries have occurred over many decades. High concentrations of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) have been found in samples of fish tissue from many locations, including three tributaries to the Niagara River: Tonawanda Creek, Two mile Creek, and Rattlesnake Creek (study reaches listed in Table 1).

Study site for SPMD sampler in a tributary to the Niagara River Study site for SPMD sampler in a tributary to the Niagara River

High PCB concentrations have also been found in mussel tissues during in situ experiments in the latter two creeks PCBs have been detected in sediments from many locations, but they were generally lower than expected given the elevated PCB concentrations recently observed in fish and mussel tissues from selected sites in the three tributaries. Local sources of PCB contamination in each tributary generally remain unknown, but probable sources need to be isolated/identified to help define appropriate management and (or) remediation actions.

To help pinpoint likely sources of PCBs, the United States Geological Survey (USGS) and New York State Department of Environmental Conservation  (NYSDEC) propose to determine PCB concentrations in water from as many as 12 sites in each of the three tributaries to the Niagara River, using semi-permeable membrane devices (SPMDs) deployed during two rounds.

Table 1. Identification codes, descriptions, and coordinates for 29 study locations in Rattlesnake Creek, Two mile Creek, and Tonawanda Creek.

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Site ID

Description

Latitude

Longitude

Two mile Creek

TMC-01

Downstream of Rattlesnake Creek

43.00848316

-78.90649806

TMC-02

Adjacent to outfall on eastern bank

43.00774309

-78.90638884

TMC-03

Just downstream of outfall located under path to east

43.00667274

-78.90641572

TMC-04

Downstream of several outfalls and 2009 yoy fish sampling location

43.00533529

-78.90587645

TMC-05

Upstream of several outfalls and 2009 yoy fish sampling point

43.00443792

-78.90540629

TMC-06

Downstream of two outfalls

43.00195098

-78.90344614

TMC-07

Downstream of WWTP

42.99658956

-78.90053451

TMC-08

Downstream of remediated section

42.99327205

-78.89978799

TMC-09

Downstream of Oriskany Drive sewer outfall

42.99048394

-78.89943406

TMC-10

Downstream of tributary and two other outfalls

42.98833675

-78.89939241

TMC-11

Downstream of pond and one outfall

42.98446109

-78.89827664

TMC-12

At 2016 sediment core sample location

42.971838

-78.894831

Rattlesnake Creek

RC-01

Between downstream end of conduit and Two mile Creek

43.00773058

-78.90686972

RC-02

Upstream of conduit

43.00467364

-78.91183063

RC-03

Outside downstream boundary of Riverview Industrial Center site

43.00391952

-78.91320403

RC-04

Downstream of confluence with north branch

43.0027407

-78.91567576

RC-05

Near discharge of pipe under Seaway/Niagara Landfill

42.99746188

-78.91819593

Tonawanda Creek

TC-01

Downstream of Gastown MGP site

43.02220822

-78.87293369

TC-02

Upstream of Gastown MGP site

43.02320515

-78.86935662

TC-03

Near 2003 caged mussel downstream location

43.02215756

-78.85786131

TC-04

Near 2003 caged mussel upstream location

43.01907809

-78.85167623

TC-05

Ellicot Creek park

43.02322769

-78.8344554

TC-06

Downstream of island

43.03010684

-78.8291622

TC-07

Upstream of island (channel around island has a number of outfalls)

43.03419096

-78.82533933

TC-08

North Tonawanda Botanical Gardens

43.03874051

-78.82661362

TC-09

Near Walck Road

43.04586864

-78.83195583

TC-10

Downstream of Creekside Golf Course site

43.05152757

-78.82450615

TC-11

Upstream of Creekside Golf Course site

43.05145594

-78.81784064

TC-12

Upstream of Amherst WWTP

43.05335407

-78.80843051

 

The main objective of this study is to gather data needed to help isolate/identify specific sources of PCBs in the three tributaries. Such information will be used to direct efforts to reduce PCB contamination and to, along with other lines of evidence, determine if associated  beneficial use impairments (BUIs) in the Niagara River Area of Concern (AOC) could be removed.

Approach

Staff from the Columbia Environmental Research Center (CERC) will construct the SPMDs and provide installation training to staff from the USGS New York Water Science Center (NYWSC), who will place SPMDs at 5 locations in Rattlesnake Creek, 12 locations in Two mile Creek, and 12 locations in Tonawanda Creek for approximately 1 month during the initial sampling round in fall 2018; and as many as 25 SPMDs will be installed again in spring 2019 after assessing results from the fall sampling. Specific sample-site locations will be directed by NYSDEC staff and reflect locations where PCB hotspots were evident (based on data from prior samples) or suspected (based on historic outfalls or permitted dischargers). Installation will be done by wading where possible (e.g., Two mile Creek and Rattlesnake Creek) and from a small boat in Tonawanda Creek. Staff from CERC will process the samplers, analyze samples for PCB congeners (Table 2), and estimate water concentrations for PCBs. Detection limits will vary depending on field conditions and deployment time; but are generally in the picogram/liter (pg/L) range. Quality control samples will include laboratory blanks, 6 field blanks, and replicate samples done at 2 or 3 sites. The second round of sampling will take place at 20 to 25 sites in early 2019 to more tightly refine the source of any PCB hotspots identified during the first round. All data from both sampling rounds will be made available to the NYSDEC and USEPA after validation as a USGS web-based (public) Data Release and as original data via the USGS National Water Information System (NWIS).

The initial round SPMD deployments will be in fall 2018 for approximately 1 month; it is expected that draft data for these samples will be available within 3 months of SPMD collection. Provisional chemistry data from the initial round of sampling will be used to guide the follow-up round of sampling, which is planned for spring 2019. Provisional chemistry data from the second round of sampling should be available within 3 months of SPMD collection. All chemistry data from both sampling rounds should be validated and analyzed, and the draft USGS Data Release prepared, by fall 2019. Internal peer reviews for technical, editorial, administrative, and metadata review may take an additional month or two.

Table 2. List of PCB congeners that will be analyzed from the SPMDs by the CERC.

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PCB-001

PCB-022

PCB-047

PCB-074

PCB-103

PCB-132

PCB-167

PCB-190

PCB-002

PCB-024/027

PCB-048/075

PCB-077

PCB-104

PCB-134

PCB-170

PCB-191

PCB-003

PCB-025

PCB-049

PCB-081

PCB-105

PCB-135/124/144

PCB-171

PCB-193

PCB-004/010

PCB-026

PCB-051

PCB-082

PCB-107

PCB-137

PCB-172

PCB-194

PCB-005

PCB-028

PCB-052

PCB-083

PCB-110

PCB-141

PCB-173

PCB-195

PCB-006

PCB-031

PCB-053

PCB-084

PCB-114

PCB-147

PCB-174

PCB-197

PCB-007/009

PCB-032

PCB-054

PCB-085

PCB-115

PCB-146

PCB-175

PCB-199

PCB-008

PCB-034

PCB-056/060

PCB-087

PCB-117

PCB-149

PCB-176

PCB-200

PCB-012/013

PCB-035

PCB-059

PCB-090/101

PCB-118

PCB-151

PCB-177

PCB-201

PCB-014

PCB-037

PCB-063

PCB-092

PCB-119

PCB-153

PCB-178

PCB-202

PCB-015

PCB-040

PCB-066

PCB-091

PCB-122

PCB-154

PCB-179

PCB-203/196

PCB-016

PCB-041/064

PCB-067

PCB-093

PCB-123

PCB-156

PCB-180

PCB-205

PCB-017

PCB-042

PCB-069

PCB-095

PCB-128

PCB-157

PCB-183

PCB-206

PCB-018

PCB-044

PCB-070

PCB-097

PCB-129

PCB-158

PCB-185

PCB-208

PCB-019

PCB-045

PCB-071

PCB-099

PCB-130

PCB-163/164/138

PCB-187

PCB-209

PCB-020/033

PCB-046

PCB-073

PCB-100

PCB-131

PCB-165

PCB-189

Total PCBs

The preparation of SPMDs, SPMD deployment, and analysis of chemical constituents will follow published methods (Alvarez 2010; Alvarez et al. 2008; Gale 2007) and established SOPs developed by CERC. Data validation will be conducted by CERC's Environmental Chemistry Branch Chief and the quality assurance (QA) Specialist. Raw data will be archived on CERC's network servers and finalized data and accompanying metadata will be part of a public (USGS-ScienceBase) Data Release.

Deliverables will take the form of a USGS-ScienceBase Data Release, that will include metadata describing SPMD sampling locations, dates and durations, methods of collection and analysis, and final chemistry data for each SPMD sample that was collected. Original data from all SPMD will be archived in the USGS National Water Information System (NWIS). Both the Data Release and NWIS data will be freely available to the public.

References:

 
Alvarez, D. A. 2010. Guidelines for the use of the semipermeable membrane device (SPMD) and the polar organic chemical integrative sampler (POCIS) in environmental monitoring studies, Techniques and Methods 1-D4, 28 p. U.S. Geological Survey, Columbia, MO.

 
Alvarez, D. A., W. L. Cranor, S. D. Perkins, R. C. Clark, and S. B. Smith. 2008. Chemical and toxicological assessment of organic contaminants in surface water using passive samplers. Journal of Environmental Quality 37:1024-1033. doi:10.2134/jeq2006.0463.

 
Gale, R. W. 2007. Estimation of freely-dissolved concentrations of polychlorinated biphenyls, 2,3,7,8-substituted congeners and homologs of polychlorinated dibenzo-p-dioxins and dibenzofurans in water for development of total maximum daily loadings for the Bluestone River Watershed, Virginia and West Virginia. U.S. Geological Survey, OFR 2007-1272, Columbia, MO.

 

Project Location by County 

Erie County, NY, Niagara County, NY