The disposal of materials dredged to maintain navigability of more than 50 channels, harbors and basins in and adjacent to the Long Island Sound is the subject of a plan slated for release next week by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
But the plan — which apparently will continue to rely on open-water dumping of dredged materials in the L.I. Sound — and the public review process has County Legislator Al Krupski seeing red.
Krupski took the federal agency to task in a letter yesterday voicing his “strong objections” to the continued use of the Sound for open-water disposal of dredged materials, the bulk of which are generated in Connecticut.
“The Long Island Sound is an estuary of national significance, and for many of the millions of people who live on Long Island and in Connecticut, it is a vital resource for fishing, recreating and commerce,” Krupski wrote. The water quality of the estuary has been degraded for decades by inappropriate land use, overdevelopment, pollution and hypoxia, he said.
“It is imperative that all governmental agencies do everything possible to protect this vitally important resource. To continue to dump dredge spoil from potentially contaminated sites is in sharp contrast to this charge,” Krupski said.
The Army Corps of Engineers currently maintains four open-water disposal sites in the L.I Sound. These sites are pits dug in the sea bottom which are filled by dredged materials. The sites were slated to close in 2016 unless a management plan was developed, Krupski said. The Army Corps in 2005, in coordination with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, was charged with developing a Dredge Material Management Plan for the Sound.
The plan and a Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement, which is not site specific, will be released on August 17, one week in advance of the first public hearing on the plan. (It will be accessible online here.) The Army Corps has scheduled a Monday, Aug. 24 public hearing in Port Jefferson, followed by an Aug. 25 hearing in Uniondale and two hearings in Connecticut on Aug. 26 and 27. The written comment period on the plan remains open until Sept. 18.
“A plan of such public import deserves to be scrutinized by stakeholders and adequate time should be given to do so,” Krupski wrote.
He called on the Army Corps to extend the public comment period to ”allow stakeholders enough time to read the documents, consider the findings and respond.”
Krupski said since his tenure as Southold Town councilman, he has called for the Army Corps to stop open-water disposal of dredged materials in the Sound and for it to plan instead for the beneficial reuse of dredged materials for beach renourishment and other purposes.
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