Sunday, August 11, 2013

Dredging: At the Epicenter

We are surrounded by dredging equipment and activity now, and the light show at night is fantastic!

The dredging operations have not disrupted our routine, aside from kayaking. The activity is much quieter and the lights less bright than we'd expected. We're able to sleep at night and don't notice it too much during the day unless we look out the front windows. 

Well, technically we're able to sleep at night, except that I often end up mesmerized by the lights and the reflections on the river and stay up watching it and sometimes photographing it. I figure it's a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to witness a historic environmental cleanup project close up. It's kind of exciting. They have five lit up barges operating near us through the night. Here are four of them dredging across the river a few nights ago in the area where I photographed water lilies last year:

There was so much activity going on that it was virtually impossible to take a 30-second exposure shot without getting trails of light from moving pontoon boats! And as I stood on the dock, the waves were coming at the shore with such vigor that my lower legs were almost getting splashed with water. That's never happened before! Even though I didn't get wet aside from a few drops, I took a shower before going to bed, just to be safe.

Here is the barge that was closest to us that night, which I couldn't fit in the picture above:

Our dock could disappear any day now, for we are at the epicenter. But they need to work carefully, to preserve the remnants of the old wharf right next to our dock. The dredging has entered an area that was bustling with activity and commerce nearly 200 years ago. Who knows what they might find?

Yesterday evening when I got home from all my errands, the excavator was almost right up to the road in front of our house, only a few yards away from our dock. 

The moment we had been anticipating all summer had arrived. When I spoke with an EPA rep earlier this summer, it looked like the equipment would be immediately in front of our house at the beginning of September - about when school begins. I am so glad operations are a little ahead of schedule because I will really need a good night's sleep when school starts!

Last night, I had intended to get to bed earlier. But I couldn't resist going to the dock and watching the nighttime operations closeup.

However, after I had finished processing photos and shut down my computer, from behind closed windows I heard one of the guys (I'm guessing the engineer) ask, "What have you got there?" And then the clamshell excavator stopped dredging for the first time that evening and began idling. They were checking things out. Then the excavator retreated a little ways from our dock. At one point, it became active again for a couple minutes. Although it wasn't going down deep enough or staying down long enough to dredge for PCBs, it looked as if it was trying to pick up something. A lot of water was splashing around as the excavator kept coming up and emptying itself. It looked like an enormous dinosaur splashing around. It was pretty wild!

 I wonder what they found! Maybe something, maybe nothing. But I will continue to keep my ears and eyes peeled to the activity, which is both environmental and archeological!

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