Prospective ecological risk assessment of sediment resuspension in an estuary
This study assesses potential ecological risk of resuspended sediment in the water column during the construction of a viaduct in the estuary of the Ulla river (Galicia, NW Iberian Peninsula), a shellfish production area. Chemical analyses and toxicity bioassays with elutriates were performed with sediments from the area where the three pillars of the viaduct will be located (CT1, CT2 and CT3) and a reference sediment (A2). Acute toxicity of the elutriate was evaluated in five species of three trophic levels (Isochrysis galbana, Paracentrotus lividus, Mytilus galloprovincialis, Venerupis pullastra and Siriella armata). The sediments of the pillars showed moderate levels of contamination by trace elements (Cu, Cr). Clam and sea urchin embryo-larval toxicity tests showed slightly higher sensitivity than mussel embryo tests, and toxicity was not detected for phytoplankton and mysid bioassays. The predicted no-effect environmental concentration (PNEC) was calculated from the arithmetic mean of the lowest calculated EC50s for each sampling site. The predicted environmental concentration (PEC) was estimated from a simple dilution model and the PEC/PNEC ratio was calculated according to different scenarios of resuspension. Negligible ecological risk in the water column is expected during construction of the pillars.