Finding balance: Resilience in ERA, with Marco Vighi and Andreu Rico

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Credit: Phil Loring, CC BY-NC-SA 3.0

The concept of resilience has been discussed in ecology since the 1970s, but practitioners are now applying the concept to improve accuracy and realism in ecological risk assessments. The September 2018 issue of IEAM features invited commentaries that discuss ecological resilience and what it means in practice for risk and impact assessments. Join us as we talk with authors Marco Vighi and Andreu Rico about how to incorporate resilience into ecological risk assessment, and the challenges and opportunities facing the regulatory community.

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What lies beneath: The fallout of biomobilization at the Hanford site, with Sara Lovtang

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Hanford Site, Washington, USA. Credit: Stacy James, US Fish and Wildlife Service.

Soil caps are a commonly employed technique in remediation efforts at contaminated sites. Once cleanup efforts are complete, however, plants and animals at these sites may inadvertently disrupt the best laid plans if not properly accounted for. In this episode we explore what happens when natural biota and processes kick in post remediation. We chat with Sara Lovtang, lead author on an IEAM article that defends the established depth of the biologically active zone at Hanford, a nuclear waste site that processed plutonium fuel during World War II at the height of its operations.

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Impaired Ecosystems: Ounce of Prevention or Pound of Cure? With Aida Farag & Ruth Hull

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Blackwater Wildife Refuge Wetlands Restoration Project, Maryland. Credit: Adam Lindquist, CC BY-NC 2.0.

Although many people confuse the terms remediation and restoration, they are two separate processes in the restoration of impaired ecosystems. A special series in the April 2016 issue of IEAM challenges practitioners and researchers to rethink the traditional linear, sequential process of ecological restoration, instead encouraging a collaborative approach along the way, to integrate restoration goals throughout the process, beginning with site assessment. Guest Editors Aida Farag and Ruth Hull discuss workshop findings and tell us why we should heed an ounce of prevention when restoring ecosystems. Access the series in the April 2016 issue of IEAM.

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From the Ashes: Using BERA to Assess a Coal Fly Ash Spill in Tennessee, with Suzy Walls

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Kingston Fossil Plant, coal ash spill cleanup, 2012. Credit: Appalachian Voices, CC BY 2.0, cropped from original.

The largest coal fly ash spill in US history occurred in 2008, at the Kingston Fossil Plant in Roane County, Tennessee. Over 4.1 million cubic meters of toxic coal fly ash spilled into the surrounding river ecosystem, which included three rivers and a reservoir. The January 2015 issue of IEAM features a special series of articles that detail the Baseline Ecological Risk Assessment (BERA) conducted to assess residual ash remaining in the Watts Bar Reservoir.

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Sedimentary, My Dear Watson. Passive Sampling Methods and Sediment Remediation, with Marc Greenberg

Contaminated sediment—and how to manage them—present an ongoing problem for scientists worldwide. Management and remediation is expensive and time-consuming, often involving millions of dollars over many years. An easier solution may be coming however. The April 2014 issue of IEAM contains a special series on passive sampling methods for contaminated sediment, and Marc Greenberg provides all the details.

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California Sediment Quality Objectives: What’s Up with California’s Mud? With Steve Bay

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Tidal mudflat, Drakes Estero, California. Credit: John Weiss, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

California recently adopted an innovative framework for assessing sediment quality impacts to the benthic community based upon multiple lines of evidence. The seven articles in the series address one aspect of a multi-phase project to define sediment quality objectives, including a new sediment quality guideline (SQG) index.Steve Bay, Guest Editor of the special series “California Sediment Quality Objectives,” describes how the series articles define sediment quality objectives for California that will be used to protect fish, wildlife, benthic invertebrates, and even humans. Access the series in the October 2012 issue of IEAM.

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Accelerating Progress at Contaminated Sediment Sites, with Todd Bridges

Atlas Tack Federal Superfund Site, Fairhaven, MA, USA. Credit: Massachusetts DEP, CC BY 2.0.

Todd Bridges addresses the process of managing and remediating contaminated sediment in the United States. There are currently more than 300 sites in the US federal government’s program to clean up the nation’s uncontrolled hazardous waste sites (Superfund). Hear Todd discuss proposed actions to accelerate cleanup progress and improve the effectiveness of risk management. Read the article “Accelerating progress at contaminated sediment sites: Moving from guidance to practice,” in the April 2012 issue of IEAM.

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