DNREC Mirror Lake clean-up earns more national acclaim; innovative approach reduces pollutants in the Christina River

DOVER, Del. – For Earth Day 2020, DNREC announced it has successfully used an innovative approach to reduce polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) in two Delaware waterways. Newly released scientific data are validating the new method of sequestering pollutants with activated carbon, which render them unavailable for uptake by fish and other aquatic organisms.

The first success was with an activated carbon product called SediMite™ at Mirror Lake in Dover in 2013. The project is featured in a new article co-authored by several project participants, including two DNREC scientists, and published in the May issue of Journal of Environmental Engineering. The article, titled “Full-Scale Application of Activated Carbon to Reduce Pollutant Bioavailability in a 5-Acre Lake” presents a summary of the monitoring data collected at the site between 2013 and 2018. Highlights include an approximate 80% reduction in PCB concentrations in sediment porewater, which is the water trapped between grains of sediment in the bottom of a water body. The study also found an approximate 70% reduction in PCB concentrations in Mirror Lake’s resident fish.

“The recognition by the Journal of Environmental Engineering reflects how Delaware is on the leading edge of environmental technology, an area that DNREC is exploring more and more” said DNREC Secretary Shawn Garvin. “Mirror Lake was a successful pilot, so DNREC’s team sought a second opportunity to try the technology.”

The A Street Ditch project became a focus for DNREC’s Watershed Approach to Toxics Assessment and Restoration (WATAR) Team after samples confirmed that drainage ditch sediments were a continuing source of PCBs to the Christina River. The project, in coordination with cleanup efforts at the adjacent South Wilmington Wetland Park site, provided an opportunity to evaluate an enhanced carbon sequestration technology developed by DNREC’s partners at the University of Maryland Baltimore County (UMBC).

The enhanced technology involves the use of SediMite™ with the addition of PCB-destroying micro-organisms (inoculant). In theory, the activated carbon will sequester PCBs, as shown in Mirror Lake. However, the micro-organisms (which exist naturally in the environment in much smaller numbers) will effectively degrade the PCB molecules over time. Initial results, collected only 5 months after the inoculated Sedimite™ was applied to the ditch sediments, show that total PCB concentrations in the top layer of sediments across the A Street Ditch study area dropped by an average of 25%. In addition, surface water PCB concentrations across the site area have dropped by an average of 35%. Most impressive is concentrations of total PCBs in sediment porewater have dropped by an average of 64%. Additional monitoring will occur in July 2020, and again in July 2022.

Another harbinger for clean water in Delaware is that sequestering or destroying legacy PCBs – the primary risk driver for most of the fish consumption advisories issued by DNREC and the Delaware Division of Public Health – prevents these contaminants from entering the food chain. With increasing confidence in these innovative sediment remediation technologies, DNREC is beginning to plan for larger-scale projects, in key watersheds across Delaware, with similar water quality impairments.

“What these projects have achieved brings the longstanding goal of clean water for all Delawareans a little closer,” said Secretary Garvin. “DNREC’s dedicated scientists and staff are committed to improving water quality and making smarter use of resources at our disposal, including the technology that has driven both the Mirror Lake and A Street Ditch projects.”

DNREC’s A Street Ditch pilot project was supported by $188,000 in Hazardous Substance Cleanup Act (HSCA) funds and a $30,000 US Environmental Protection Agency multi-purpose grant. For more information, view the DNREC YouTube video about the WATAR team’s A Street Ditch pilot and another video on the Mirror Lake project or visit the DNREC website.


The Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control protects and manages the state’s natural resources, protects public health, provides outdoor recreational opportunities and educates Delawareans about the environment. For more information, visit the website and connect with DNREC on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn.

Media Contact: Micahael Globetti, michael.globetti@delaware.gov


Polly Drummond yard waste site closed for the day Sunday for capacity and traffic

DOVER, Del. – The Polly Drummond Hill drop-off yard waste site near Newark, which opened for the season on Saturday, April 18, was closed to further drop-offs about noon on Sunday because of yard waste material capacity and traffic issues.

Traffic and capacity caused DNREC to close the Polly Drummond Hill yard waste drop-off site temporarily Sunday, April 19

On Sunday morning, the site had already reached about 80 percent capacity from material that was dropped off by residents on Saturday. Then dozens of cars trying to access the site at once created a long line out of the entrance and onto Polly Drummond Hill Road, blocking traffic and requiring DNREC Natural Resources Police and Delaware State Police to respond.

DNREC will work this week to have its contractor shred and remove all the material that was dropped, and create a traffic plan with the goal of reopening the site on Saturday, April 25. The site operates Saturdays and Sundays.

A list of commercial yard waste drop-off sites that residents can use as an alternative is at https://dnrec.alpha.delaware.gov/waste-hazardous/yard-waste/drop-off-sites/

The Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control protects and manages the state’s natural resources, protects public health, provides outdoor recreational opportunities and educates Delawareans about the environment. For more information, visit the website and connect with DNREC on FacebookTwitter or LinkedIn

Media Contact: Nikki Lavoie, nikki.lavoie@delaware.gov


DNREC offers compost bins and rain barrels at discount prices

Both items must be pre-ordered in advance and are available pick up-only

DOVER, Del. – Delaware residents may pre-order environmentally beneficial compost bins and rain barrels at discount prices during an online sale in May. Made available by DNREC’s Division of Waste & Hazardous Substances, in conjunction with the Division of Watershed Stewardship, advance purchases must be made for both items at www.enviroworld.us/delaware before the deadlines listed below:

• Kent County: May 3 pre-order deadline. Pickup: Saturday, May 9. DNREC Offices, 155 Commerce Way, Suite B, Dover, DE 19904. 9 a.m.-1 p.m. (pickup: rear door at location).
• New Castle County. May 10 pre-order deadline. Pickup: Saturday, May 16. DNREC Offices, 391 Lukens Drive, New Castle, DE 19720. 9 a.m.-1 p.m. (pickup: rear door at location)
• Sussex County: May 31 pre-order deadline. Pickup: Saturday, June 6. DNREC Lewes Field Facility, 901 Pilottown Road, Lewes, DE 19958

The FreeGarden Earth compost bins, offered through DNREC for $50 each, are made from recycled materials, and require no assembly. Compost bins have features that enhance the decomposition process and help make composting more efficient. These compact units transform food scraps and yard waste into a nutrient-rich soil amendment that replaces traditional fertilizers to produce healthier plants and vegetables in home gardens.

The 55-gallon FreeGarden Rain rain barrels made available by DNREC at $60 each, or about half the retail price, are attractive and easy to move, install, and use. They come with an insect resistant stainless-steel screen, three additional spigot mounting locations, as well as a childproof lid and square shape ideal for flush-to-wall and corner installations.

Rain barrels collect and store the water from roofs and downspouts for future uses such as watering lawns, gardens, and house plants; cleaning off gardening tools; and washing your car. Rain barrels help to lower your water bills, particularly in the summer months by collecting free water each year! Rain barrels play an important role in protecting our water resources by collecting the stormwater runoff from our homes before it reaches our local streams and rivers.

Compost bins and rain barrels must be picked up between 9 a.m. and 1 p.m. at the chosen location and only those items ordered will be available. Buyers should note that no additional bins, barrels, or accessories will be sold at the pick-up locations.

For more information about composting, please visit DNREC’s Composting webpage or email or call Don Long of DNREC’s Division of Waste & Hazardous Substances at donald.long@delaware.gov or phone: 302-739-9403. For more information about DNREC’s non-point source program, which works toward reducing water pollution, please visit the DNREC Nonpoint Source Program webpage or email or call Phil Miller of the Division of Watershed Stewardship at philip.miller@delaware.gov or phone: 302-608-5468.


The Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control protects and manages the state’s natural resources, protects public health, provides outdoor recreational opportunities and educates Delawareans about the environment. The Division of Waste and Hazardous Substances ensures Delaware’s wastes are managed to protect human life, health, safety and the environment. The Division of Watershed Stewardship develops and implements innovative watershed assessment, monitoring and implementation activities. For more information, visit the website and connect with @DNREC on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn.


Polly Drummond Hill Road yard waste site to close for season Friday, Feb. 28

Other yard waste recycling options are available for area residents

DOVER, Del. – DNREC’s Polly Drummond Hill Yard Waste site in New Castle County will close for the season on Friday, Feb. 28, 2020. Normally, the site closes earlier – at the end of January – but due to mild weather, DNREC extended the site’s operation into 2020 to accommodate yard waste activities. Area residents who wish to recycle their yard waste while the Polly Drummond Hill Road site is closed have other options for yard waste disposal.

DNREC’s Division of Waste & Hazardous Substances offers a “What to Do With Yard Waste in Delaware” brochure at de.gov/yardwaste. To find a nearby location for yard waste disposal, click on the blue button “Yard Waste Drop-off Sites” at de.gov/yardwaste for a list of sites categorized by county.

The Polly Drummond Hill Road Yard Waste site will reopen on Saturday, April 18, 2020. Starting on that date, the site will be open Saturday- and Sunday-only from 8 a.m. – 5 p.m.

Media contact: Joanna Wilson, joanna.wilson@delaware.gov


Recycling Public Advisory Council to meet Jan. 22 in Dover

DOVER – Delaware’s Recycling Public Advisory Council (RPAC) will meet at 1 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 22 at the DelDOT building in the Felton-Farmington conference room located at 800 Bay Road, Dover, DE 19901.

The Recycling Public Advisory Council was enacted into law by Senate Bill 234 in May 2010, and charged with advising the Governor’s Office, the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control, and the Delaware Solid Waste Authority on all aspects of recycling, including: development of grant criteria and selection of applications; a methodology for measuring recycling rates; and possible outreach activities designed to achieve higher recycling rates for the state.

For more information, please visit the RPAC webpage on the DNREC website, or contact Adam Schlachter, DNREC Division of Waste & Hazardous Substances’ Compliance and Permitting Section, at 302-739-9403.

For more information about the quarterly RPAC meeting, including the agenda, please go to https://publicmeetings.delaware.gov/Meeting/65167.

Contact: Beth Shockley, DNREC Public Affairs, 302-739-9902