EPA rule cre­ates dis­posal site for dredged sed­i­ment

Daily Freeman (Kingston, NY) - - STATE NEWS - By Su­san Haigh

HART­FORD, CONN. >> The En­vi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion Agency is­sued a fi­nal de­ci­sion Fri­day that des­ig­nates a por­tion of eastern Long Is­land Sound in Con­necti­cut wa­ters as a dis­posal site for dredged sed­i­ment from Con­necti­cut and New York ports and har­bors.

The EPA’s rule was praised by Con­necti­cut of­fi­cials, in­clud­ing U.S. Rep. Joe Court­ney, a Demo­crat whose 2nd Dis­trict in­cludes the south­east­ern Con­necti­cut shore­line. He said small mari­nas to the U.S. Sub­ma­rine Base in Gro­ton all rely on hav­ing a long-term place­ment site for dredged ma­te­ri­als.

“This ea­gerly awaited step is the re­sult of years of in­ten­sive sci­en­tific study, ro­bust pub­lic en­gage­ment and ad­vo­cacy by a wide range of in­ter­ests in the re­gion, and I firmly be­lieve that the fi­nal prod­uct re­flects the bal­anced ap­proach that we all know is needed,” he said in a writ­ten state­ment.

The Eastern Long Is­land Sound Dis­posal Site is lo­cated just west of the cur­rent New Lon­don Dis­posal Site, which is clos­ing Dec. 23.

New York last month for­mally ob­jected to the pro­posal, say­ing the EPA hadn’t suf­fi­ciently con­sid­ered the cu­mu­la­tive ef­fects of dump­ing or other avail­able dis­posal sites. At least one en­vi­ron­men­tal group urged New York Gov. An­drew Cuomo to chal­lenge the EPA’s de­ci­sion in court, claim­ing it ig­nores the state’s con­cerns.

“A new bat­tle to pro­tect Long Is­land Sound be­gins today,” said Adri­enne Es­pos­ito, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of the New York and Con­necti­cut-based Cit­i­zens Cam­paign for the En­vi­ron­ment. “In the past the en­emy was sewage. Today the en­emy is the fed­eral govern­ment. It’s a sad day for all of us who love the Sound.”

Curt Spald­ing, re­gional ad­min­is­tra­tor of EPA’s New Eng­land of­fice, said the agency took New York’s con­cerns “very se­ri­ously” but dis­agrees with its claims that the dredged sed­i­ments could threaten en­vi­ron­men­tal habi­tats by drift­ing into New York. Spald­ing said the Con­necti­cut dis­posal site lo­ca­tion has very low cur­rent ac­tiv­ity and the “ma­te­rial will end up where it’s put.”

Spald­ing also noted how the EPA’s new de­ci­sion re­duces the over­all amount of sed­i­ment that’s dis­posed. A new team will re­view the dredged ma­te­rial and de­ter­mine if any of it can be used for an­other pur­pose, such as re­pur­pos­ing sand and gravel to re­plen­ish eroded beaches.

“We very much want that to hap­pen,” Spald­ing said.

Court­ney noted how the EPA’s de­ci­sion fol­lows a re­cent com­mit­ment by the U.S. Navy to spend more than $5 mil­lion to plan and de­sign a ma­jor pier re­place­ment at the sub­ma­rine base along the Thames River. He said the project will need dredg­ing and could see sig­nif­i­cant cost in­creases without this dis­posal site.

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