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In 1990, presumed coal tar leachate was observed discharging into the Hadley Falls tailrace on the Connecticut River in Holyoke, Massachusetts. The suspected source was the Holyoke Gas Works, a manufactured gas plant which operated from 1852 until 1951. Coal tar deposits were subsequently identified in an area known to provide habitat for the federally endangered shortnose sturgeon (Acipenser brevirostrum). This area also provides habitat for two stateprotected mussel species and numerous other finfish and shellfish species. Removal work within the river began in 2002.

In an effort to protect shortnose sturgeon from construction impacts a seining program was implemented to remove fish from work areas. During the 2002 and 2003 construction seasons, 10 species of fish were removed within the containment areas, however no shortnose sturgeon were captured or observed. State and local agencies also required a mussel relocation program to protect a food source of shortnose sturgeon and to protect state-listed rare mussel species. In 2002, 454 mussels were removed from two coal tar patch areas and in 2003 over 14,000 mussels were removed from seven coal tar patch areas. Four species of mussels were relocated, including the endangered yellow lampmussel (Lampsilis cariosa) and the tidewater mucket (Ligunia ochracea), a species of special concern. The tidewater mucket and the yellow lampmussel have not been documented in this section of the river since 1995. Of the habitat resampled in 2003, approximately eleven percent of the mussels removed in 2002 were recaptured.

Although some short-term disruption in the river was unavoidable, the remediation design refinements as well as these mitigation measures have helped to minimize the impacts of construction and facilitated the overall project goal of long-term aquatic habitat restoration.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 01 January 2004

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