Hanging on to the LI Sound
Hanging on to the LI Sound

The U.S. EPA has issued a final rule to designate one Eastern Long Island Sound Dredged Material Disposal Site to receive dredged sediment from ports and harbors in Connecticut and New York.

The newly designated Eastern Long Island Sound Disposal Site is immediately to the west of the current New London Disposal Site, in Connecticut state waters, and the EPA says it plans to close the existing New London Disposal Site on Dec. 23, 2016.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo had written to President Barack Obama in August threatening legal action against the EPA over the proposed dumping of dredge spoils in the eastern Long Island Sound, despite the fact that the site is in Connecticut waters.

“EPA’s decision to establish the Eastern Long Island Sound Disposal Site incorporates protections and restrictions on use similar to those established for the Central and Western Long Island Sound Dredged Material Disposal Sites earlier this year,” said Curt Spalding, regional administrator of EPA’s New England office, in announcing the EPA’s final rule Friday afternoon. “Our decision is based on sound science, reflects extensive public input, and strikes an appropriate balance between the need for dredging to maintain safe navigation and protecting the significant natural resources of Long Island Sound. The site protections and restrictions we included in the final rule are intended to help meet the goal of reducing or eliminating dredged material disposal in the open waters of Long Island Sound.”

But State Assemblyman Fred Thiele, who signed on to the governor’s August letter, isn’t happy with the EPA’s determination.

“While the EPA has attempted to convince the public that it is mitigating the impacts of this polluting practice, the truth is that the EPA decision is just more of the same,” said Mr. Thiele in a statement Monday. “While we continue to see a decline in overall water quality, the EPA is countenancing the continued pollution of one of our most precious resources.”

“The fact that the disposal site is entirely within Connecticut waters is of no consolation to the people of Long Island,” he added. “One of the first lessons we learned as children when our mothers put us in the bathtub with our siblings is that what one sibling does in the bathtub affects everybody in the bathtub. This dumping will affect all of us.”

In the August letter signed by more than 30 federal, state and local elected officials, Governor Cuomo provided notice to President Obama and EPA officials that the state “will take all necessary steps to challenge the rule and stop it from being implemented.”

Mr. Thiele urged the Governor to take legal action to stop the EPA.

Beth Young
Beth Young is an award-winning local journalist who has been covering the East End since the 1990s. She began her career at the Sag Harbor Express and, after receiving her Masters from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, has reported for the Southampton Press, the East Hampton Press and the Times/Review Media Group. She founded the East End Beacon website in 2013, and a print edition in 2017. Beth was born and raised on the North Fork. In her spare time, she tinkers with bicycles, tries not to drown in the Peconic Bay and hopes to grow the perfect tomato. You can send her a message at editor@eastendbeacon.com

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