The Dredged Material Management Plan study area.

The deadline for written comments on the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Dredged Material Management Plan has been extended to 60 days, Rep. Lee Zeldin announced on Thursday. The new deadline for comments is Oct. 18, he said.

Zeldin wrote to the Army Corps Aug. 10 seeking an extension of the 30-day deadline set by the federal agency for public commment on the 1,300-plus pages of documents scheduled to be released to the public on Aug. 17, just one week prior to the only public hearing scheduled in Suffolk County.

“I feel that this is much too short a period for documents which have been years in the making and will have an impact on our area for decades to come,” Zeldin wrote in a letter to the Army Corps programs, projects and management division. The congressman asked for the comment period to be extended to 120 days.

“It is absolutely essential that the public have sufficient time to review the draft plan and to comment,” Zeldin said in a statement issued Thursday. “I’m grateful for those local elected officials and community leaders who have joined me in this cause.”

When the Army Corps announced it would release the plan on Aug. 17, hold a public hearing on Aug. 24 and close the public comment period on Sept. 18, there was an outcry from local elected officials.

County Legislator Al Krupski wrote to the Army Corps Aug. 10 to voice his “strong objections” to the short timeline for the public to digest and comment on the plan.

Krupski, who is opposed to the continuation of open water dumping of dredged material in the Sound, also asked the Army Corps to extend the comment period.

“A plan of such public import deserves to be scrutinized by stakeholders and adequate time should be given to do so,” Krupski wrote.

The supervisors of Southold, Riverhead and Brookhaven all spoke out against plans to continue open water dumping and the short timeline for public review and comment.

Zeldin asked the Army Corps for both an extension to 120 days and the scheduling of an additional public hearing.

In a press release Thursday, the congressman said the Army Corps extended the deadline to Oct. 18 and had scheduled an additional public hearing. That information is not reflected on the agency’s website, where the most recent public notice says the deadline for written comments was extended to Oct. 5. The notice is dated Aug. 14, but it was not posted on the website when the draft Dredged Material Management Plan was posted on the site for public review three days later, on Aug. 17.

Zeldin said he supports “phasing out all open water disposal of dredge waste in the Long Island Sound. This report opens the door to phasing out the practice, but should do more to speed up this process.”

“EPA testing must be performed on all dredge waste to ensure that the material will not harm the environment into which it is placed,” Zeldin said. “Long Island can not be a dumping ground for any questionable waste dredged out of Connecticut rivers.”

A public hearing will be held Monday, Aug. 24, in the Village Center at Port Jefferson at 101-A East Broadway, Port Jefferson. A second public hearing will be held on Tuesday at the Marriott Long Island, 101 James Doolittle Blvd. in Uniondale. Two public hearings will also be held in Connecticut: one in Stamford on Wednesday and one in New London on Thursday.

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