Newton Creek 2012 Sediment Characterization


Newton Creek is a tributary of Superior Bay in the St Louis River AOC. This creek was impacted by petroleum discharges from an oil refinery. The final phase of remedial actions to address the petroleum contamination in Newton Creek and Hog Island Inlet were completed in 2005. The remedial action for Newton Creek was largely driven by removal of visual contamination. Some contamination was left in the floodplain soils with minimal isolation. Newton Creek and Hog Island Inlet are on the 303(d) list of impaired waters for PAHs, oil sheens, etc. Evidence for recovery of the biological community was being sought through recent water quality projects to aid determinations for delisting. The fish and macoinvertebrate data suggest that the creek is right on the fence for attaining its aquatic life designated use. We are doing the toxicity testing because one of the species used in the test, Hyalella, is one of the two that Kurt Schmude at UW-Superior states is “glaringly absent” from Newton Creek. We have already spent monitoring funds to evaluate PAH concentrations in Newton Creek sediment (attached) and these indicate they are present above the threshold effects concentration, but below the probable effects concentrations. Fingernail clams and hyallella are present in nearby streams and should have colonized the Newton Creek system by now. Something continues to impact the benthic community in Newton Creek. A 1995 DNR study concluded the effect levels for benthic macroinvertebrates from DRO in Newton Creek system as follows: Lowest Observed Effect Level (LOEL) of 150 mg/kg and Severe Effect Level (SEL) of 1,280 mg/kg. DRO, toxicity, ammonia, Hg, and Cr were not run on the recent samples yet these were identified as parameters of concern during previous DNR investigations. Additional data is needed to compare with conditions before the remediation. Paired chemical and toxicity testing results are needed to get us closer to making a decision on the petroleum product impairment listing. A total of five samples will be collected for analysis, with one of these being from an unimpaired reference stream. These data will help answer the questions of did we do a good enough job cleaning up the stream or is something new causing impairments.

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