at Eagle River Flats, Alaska
MICHAEL R. WALSH AND CHARLES M. COLLINS
covered the cause of these massive die-offs: poi-
soning due to the ingestion of white phosphorus
Eagle River Flats (ERF) is an estuarine salt
(WP) particles in the sediments of ponded areas
marsh located on Ft. Richardson near Anchorage,
(Racine et al. 1992).
Alaska (Fig. 1). For fifty years, it has been used as
With this discovery, firing of white phospho-
an impact area by both the Army and Air Force.
rus into the Eagle River Flats impact area (the
During the 1980s, thousands of dead and dying
Flats) was halted, but the highly persistent resid-
waterfowl were found in this area during spring
ual particles of WP continued to take their toll on
and fall migrations. For five years, various state
the waterfowl population. Investigations into the
and federal agencies tried without success to
behavior and extent of the contaminant were con-
unravel the mystery of this high mortality. Finally,
ducted, followed by a parallel investigation into
in the spring of 1990, a team of researchers from
various methods of remediating the most hazard-
the U.S. Army Cold Regions Research and Engi-
neering Laboratory (CRREL), working in conjunc-
Dredging is one of several options evaluated
tion with the Ft. Richardson Directorate of Public
during the remediation feasibility study conducted
Works, Environmental Division (DPW-EV), dis-
at the Flats since 1994.
Figure 1. Eagle River Flats, Alaska.