Ecological Science

Ecological Projects Introduction

Did contaminants released and disposed from historical PGDP industrial enrichment & support operations impact the environment and/or local flora and fauna? What has been studied? What hasn't been studied? Has ecological monitoring been conducted on the appropriate terrestrial and aquatic populations in the watershed and related habitats of the PGDP industrial site, reservation, and West Kentucky Wildlife Management Area? What species might be monitored as indicators of ecological health and impacts for specific trophic groups within the vicinity of the PGDP impacts?

For more than 20 years, data has been collected to characterize contaminant releases into air, soil, sediment, surface water and groundwater. Ecological data has been collected routinely via the efforts of the DOE PGDP Site, CERCLA and RCRA investigations, KY Department of Fish and Wildlife, KY Department of Environmental Protection, Agreement in Principle Program, KY Cabinet for Health Services, Radiation and Environmental Monitoring Laboratory, U.S. Department of Justice, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the University of Kentucky, Murray State University, Southern Illinois University, Oak Ridge National Laboratories, Texas Tech University, Oak Ridge University and many other highly qualified individuals and organizations.

Prior to 2005, ecological data had been the subject of sampling and evaluation over a broad range of PGDP projects. However, reports containing ecological data were independently compiled for specific projects and data was not evaluated and integrated into a defensible framework that could be used to guide long-term environmental monitoring.

The PGDP Ecological Summary Project compiled and summarized the historical data and monitoring activities at the PGDP.  The summarized data identify the species and chemicals that have been monitored. The intended end-use of the data is to provide a basis for future ecological investigations. A Current Project Workplan for Future PGDP & Vicinity Terrestrial and Aquatic Ecological Monitoring Activities - is currently underway.

Project Background

At the onset of this investigation, in early 2005, no single document existed which identified and summarized all of the historical and recent PGDP ecological assessment activities that had been conducted.

This project compiled, evaluated, and summarized historical terrestrial and aquatic biota data collected at the PGDP. The compilation of data and reports was conducted in order to provide a terrestrial and aquatic biota knowledge base to serve as the basis for developing a roadmap for future PGDP ecological monitoring activities.

Project Activities Summary

  • Gathered available terrestrial and biota study documents and data
  • Produced Digital Copies of Data
  • Prepared Summary Tables and End Note Ecological Information Database
    • Species Monitored
    • Target organs
    • Summary of aquatic and terrestrial Chemical of Concern monitoring by species
  • Developed Paducah Food Web model (Figure 2.B.1)
    • Identified monitored species within Food Web Model
    • Identified transport pathways to terrestrial and aquatic population as part of Food Web Model.
    • Developed trophic position web models for Food Web Model subgroups.
    • Identified the monitored species within Trophic Position subgroups
  • Summarized the status of terrestrial and aquatic chemical of concern monitoring
  • Provided general recommendations for routine ecological species monitoring based on:
    • Species food web Model of Contaminant Pathways
    • Representativeness of species in trophic position webs
    • Historical data collected by species
  • The project final report, Ecological Summary Final Report 5.14.07.doc, provides the detailed food web trophic position models that were developed to evaluate species, tables of species with the chemicals, tissue, analysis frequency, and frequency of detection for contaminants of concern. Documents containing terrestrial and aquatic investigations and data were compiled in an End Note Database for future reference, PGDP_Ecological_Docs_ Library_Master.Data
  • The project published a report on the environmental impact on the local raccoon population: Preliminary study of PCBs in raccoons living on or near the Paducah Gaseous Diffusion Plant, Kentucky.
  • The project also published a report on the assessment on the health of the WKWMA wetlands: Amphibian Habitat Assessment at the Paducah Gaseous Diffusion Plant and the West Kentucky State Wildlife Management Area.
Document TitleDescriptionYear
Ecological Summary Final Report Final Report2007
Ecological Monitoring DatabaseData Summary Report2007
Raccoon Study Final ReportFinal Report2016
Wetland Assessment Final ReportFinal Report2016
food web

Paducah Food Web Model based upon species found in the PGDP Watershed and adjacent areas

Project Manager

Steve Hampson, UK-KY Research Consortium for Energy and Environment, KY Water Resources Research Institute

Project Team

Dr. Richard Halbrook, Cooperative Wildlife Research Laboratory, Southern Illinois University
Dr. Howard Whiteman, Department of Biological Sciences, Murray State University
Lenn Roberts, KY Environmental Protection Cabinet, Federal Facilities Oversight Unit

Project Contributors

Tim Kreher, Manager, KY Department of Fish and Wildlife, West Kentucky Wildlife Management Area
Dr. Steve Alexander, U.S. Department of Fish and Wildlife, Cookeville, TN