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Tidal flushing of mercury from the Bremerton Naval Complex through the PSNS015 stormwater drain system to Sinclair Inlet, Kitsap County, Washington, 2011 -12

Scientific Investigations Report 2018-5087

Prepared in cooperation with U.S. Department of the Navy
By:
https://doi.org/10.3133/sir20185087

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Abstract

The sediments of Sinclair Inlet, in Puget Sound, Washington, have elevated levels of contaminants including mercury. The Bremerton Naval Complex is adjacent to Sinclair Inlet, and has known areas of historical soil mercury contamination. The U.S. Geological Survey, in cooperation with the U.S. Navy, has been investigating the potential for mercury sources on the Bremerton Naval Complex to recontaminate recently remediated marine sediment. In 2011–12, the U.S. Geological Survey conducted three tidal- related sampling campaigns to characterize mercury dynamics in the largest stormwater drain system on the Bremerton Naval Complex, which passes through the soils of an area known as Site 2 that has elevated soil mercury concentrations. The sampling campaigns confirmed that the stormwater drain system, PSNS015, serves as a conduit for seawater transport more than 250 m landward of the contaminated soils that subsequently facilitates mercury transport to Sinclair Inlet.

During the December 2011 reconnaissance sampling campaign, no freshwater source of mercury to PSNS015 was identified. There was heavy precipitation preceding and stormwater runoff generated during the reconnaissance survey, which suggests that the primary source of mercury in PSNS015 is not precipitation-induced. During the May 2012 spring-tide sampling campaign, the water in PSNS015 drained to Sinclair Inlet during a negative low tide, and the highest filtered total mercury concentration in the stormwater drain system (60 ng/L) was measured during the lower-low tide in the freshwater flowing into the seaward-most stormwater drain vault from either up-pipe or local groundwater intrusion. Similar conditions were not observed during the June 2012 companion neap-tide sampling campaign, when the water-level elevation of the positive low tide in Sinclair Inlet dropped only slightly below the stormwater drain vault elevation, the water in the seaward-most stormwater vault was brackish rather than fresh, and the filtered total mercury concentration never exceeded 24 ng/L. Particulate total mercury concentrations and dynamics during the spring- and neap-tide sampling campaigns were variable, with higher concentrations (as much as 133 ng/L) measured throughout the neap-tide study compared to those measured during the spring-tide study (as much as 4.34 ng/L). The highest filtered total mercury concentration of all sampling campaigns (1,140 ng/L) was measured during ebb tide in a nearshore monitoring well that represents groundwater discharging from the contaminated soils directly to Sinclair Inlet along an unwalled part of the shoreline.

The results suggest that mercury extracted from Site 2 soils can be carried to Sinclair Inlet during ebb tides by at least two mechanisms: (1) through groundwater directly to Sinclair Inlet along an unwalled part of the shoreline or (2) through the stormwater drain system when the water level in Sinclair Inlet drops below the water level in the stormwater drain system. The data can be used to guide future modifications to the seawall and stormwater drain system that aim to hydraulically disconnect the stormwater drain system from the surrounding contaminated soils.

Suggested Citation

Conn, K.E., Paulson, A.J., Dinicola, R.S., and DeWild, J.F., 2018, Tidal flushing of mercury from the Bremerton Naval Complex through the PSNS015 stormwater drain system to Sinclair Inlet, Kitsap County, Washington, 2011 -12: U.S. Geological Survey Scientific Investigations Report 2018-5087, 23 p., https://doi.org/10.3133/sir20185087.

ISSN: 2328-0328 (online)

Study Area

Table of Contents

  • Abstract
  • Introduction
  • Methods
  • Sources of Filtered Total Mercury Other Than Site 2 Soils
  • Saltwater Intrusion in the PSNS015 Stormwater Drain System
  • Water Level and Mercury Dynamics in the A42 Vault During a Spring and Neap Tide
  • Mercury Concentrations in Opportunistic Samples Collected During a Spring and Neap Tide
  • Bacteria Concentrations in Samples Collected During a Spring and Neap Tide
  • Discussion
  • Summary
  • Acknowledgments
  • References Cited
  • Appendix 1. Vertical profiles in PSNS015 Stormwater Drain System at Higher High Tide

Additional publication details

Publication type:
Report
Publication Subtype:
USGS Numbered Series
Title:
Tidal flushing of mercury from the Bremerton Naval Complex through the PSNS015 stormwater drain system to Sinclair Inlet, Kitsap County, Washington, 2011 -12
Series title:
Scientific Investigations Report
Series number:
2018-5087
DOI:
10.3133/sir20185087
Year Published:
2018
Language:
English
Publisher:
U.S. Geological Survey
Publisher location:
Reston, VA
Contributing office(s):
Washington Water Science Center
Description:
vi, 23 p.
Country:
United States
State:
Washington
County:
Kitsap County
Other Geospatial:
Sinclair Inlet
Online Only (Y/N):
Y