Characterization of ecological risks at the Milltown Reservoir-Clark Fork River Sediments Superfund Site, Montana

Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry
By: , and 

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Abstract

A comprehensive field and laboratory approach to the ecological risk assessment for the Milltown Reservoir-Clark Fork River Sediments Site, a Superfund site in the Rocky Mountains of Montana, has been described in the preceding reports of this series. The risk assessment addresses concerns over the ecological impacts of upstream releases of mining wastes to fisheries of the upper Clark Fork River (CFR) and the benthic and terrestrial habitats further downstream in Milltown Reservoir. The risk characterization component of the process integrated results from a triad of information sources: (a) chemistry studies of environmental media to identify and quantify exposures of terrestrial and aquatic organisms to site-related contaminants; (b) ecological or population studies of terrestrial vegetation, birds, benthic communities, and fish; and (c) in situ and laboratory toxicity studies with terrestrial and aquatic invertebrates and plants, small mammals, amphibians, and fish exposed to contaminated surface water, sediments, wetland soils, and food sources. Trophic transfer studies were performed on waterfowl, mammals, and predatory birds using field measurement data on metals concentrations in environmental media and lower trophic food sources. Studies with sediment exposures were incorporated into the Sediment Quality Triad approach to evaluate risks to benthic ecology. Overall results of the wetland and terrestrial studies suggested that acute adverse biological effects were largely absent from the wetland; however, adverse effects to reproductive, growth, and physiological end points of various terrestrial and aquatic species were related to metals exposures in more highly contaminated depositional areas. Feeding studies with contaminated diet collected from the upper CFR indicated that trout are at high risk from elevated metals concentrations in surface water, sediment, and aquatic invertebrates. Integration of chemical analyses with toxicological and ecological evaluations of metal effects on the wetland and fishery has provided an important foundation for environmental decisions at this site.

Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Characterization of ecological risks at the Milltown Reservoir-Clark Fork River Sediments Superfund Site, Montana
Series title Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry
DOI 10.1002/etc.5620131217
Volume 13
Issue 12
Year Published 1994
Language English
Publisher SETAC
Contributing office(s) Columbia Environmental Research Center
Description 16 p.
First page 2043
Last page 2058