Update: Aug. 20, 2015:
The Army Corps of Engineers has responded to public pressure to extend the deadline for public comment on their plan to renew dumping of dredge spoils in the Long Island Sound. The new deadline is October 16, one month later than origionally proposed. The two public hearings will be still be held in New York on Monday, Aug. 24, 2015 in the Village Center at Port Jefferson at 101-A East Broadway in Port Jefferson, N.Y.; and on Tuesday, Aug. 25, 2015 at the Marriott Long Island at 101 James Doolittle Blvd. in Uniondale, N.Y.
Original Story Follows:
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers released its plan Monday to continue to allow the dumping of toxin-laden dredge spoils from Connecticut rivers into the Long Island Sound, and elected leaders on Long Island were quick to announce their opposition to the plan.
The Dredged Material Management Plan and an Environmental Impact Statement, ten years in the making, are online here at links on the bottom right hand side of the page labled “LIS DMMP” and “PEIS.”
The Army Corps will hold the first of four public hearings on Aug. 24 at 101-A East Broadway in Port Jefferson. Other hearings are scheduled on Aug. 25 at the Marriott Long Island in Uniondale; and in Stamford, Conn. on Aug. 26 and New London on Aug. 27. Registration for all meetings begins at 5:30 p.m. and the hearings begin at 6 p.m. The Army Corps will accept written comment until Sept. 18.
Brookhaven Town Supervisor Ed Romaine, Brookhaven Councilwoman Jane Bonner, State Senator Ken LaValle, State Assemblyman Steve Englebright and Defend H2O Founder and President Kevin McAllister announced their opposition to the plan just as it was released.
Mr. Romaine warned that the spoils, dredged from rivers and harbors in Connecticut, contain potentially contaminated materials that are a threat to the sensitive ecology of the Sound.
He also said the Army Corps failed to notify elected leaders of the upcoming public hearing in Port Jefferson on August 24, just seven days after the release of the long and detailed report.
“In Brookhaven Town, we’re making great strides to help improve the water quality in our rivers, lakes and bays and we expect the federal government to do the same in the Long Island Sound,” said Mr. Romaine. “Unfortunately that doesn’t appear to be the case. I strongly oppose continued dumping of spoils in the Sound and I ask my colleagues to stand with me against any plan by the Army Corps or EPA to do so.”
“Throughout my tenure, I have worked to put in place policies and programs to protect this vitally important resource,” said Senator LaValle. “This year alone, we secured $5 million towards clean water studies and initiatives across Long Island. To dump dredge spoils from potentially contaminated sites would do irreparable harm to Long Island Sound. There have been numerous studies that collectively demonstrate pollution, overfishing, and contaminated dredge material disposal have eroded the health of the Sound over time, thereby reducing its resilience capacity to deal with additional ecological stressors. I call upon the Army Corps of Engineers and the EPA to put a stop this ill-conceived plan.”
Assemblyman Englebright agreed.
“The waters of the Long Island Sound must be protected from this threat of contamination. We need to be able to do more than just look out the window and admire the beauty of the Sound,” he said. “We deserve to have the opportunity for ongoing recreational and commercial activities. The Sound must continue to provide the public with opportunities such as swimming boating and fishing, without the fear of contaminated dredge spoils. It is disappointing to think that we will have to continue to fight to protect our water bodies from willful pollution.”
“With the efforts underway to restore the environmental integrity of the Long Island Sound, the Army Corps plan to dump dredged sediments flies in the face of restoration,” said Mr. McAllister. “And, how discouraging it is that the EPA would sanction further pollution.”
The governors of New York and Connecticut asked the Army Corps to prepare the Dredged Materials Management Plan in February of 2005. The EPA also asked for the plan, in an effort at the time to examine alternatives to open-water placement of dredged material.
The Army Corps is responsible for maintaining 52 Federal Navigation Projects in Long Island Sound and adjacent waters, which require periodic maintenance dredging. These include 31 projects in Connecticut, 17 in New York and four in Rhode Island.