The federal government is moving forward with the designation of a dredged material disposal site in Connecticut waters just off Fishers Island in the Town of Southold.
The site, known as the Eastern Long Island Sound Disposal Site, is an area of two square nautical miles located about halfway between Connecticut and New York — 1.4 nautical miles northwest of Fishers Island in the Town of Southold and 1.2 nautical miles south of Goshen Point, Connecticut.
The EPA published a new proposed rule in the Federal Register yesterday, which begins the process of implementing the plan with the designation of the New London Disposal Site as a preferred alternative. Hearings on the proposed rule will be held May 25 in Riverhead (at the SCCC Culinary Arts Center, from 1 to 3 p.m. and Mattituck (at Mattituck-Laurel Library, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.). Written comments will be accepted until June 27 and can be submitted online or by email to [email protected]
The Eastern Long Island Sound Disposal Site encompasses the western half of the New London Disposal site, which has been used for dredged material disposal since 1955, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, plus two other areas. It was included in the Dredge Material Management Plan approved by the federal government in January despite vocal opposition from environmental advocates and elected officials.
The Dredge Material Management Plan calls for extending open-water dumping in L.I. Sound for the next 30 years. Authorization of four sites now in use, including the New London Disposal Site, is set to expire this year. The federal government projects 53 million cubic yards of materials will be dredged from rivers, harbors and inlets in the Long Island Sound region over the next three decades. The bulk of that dredged material would continue to be dumped in open water disposal sites under the adopted plan, which drew searing criticism from federal, state, county and town elected officials and an array of environmental advocates.
The opposition will continue and may move to the courts.
“We will be presenting both oral and written opposition to the plan at the scheduled hearings,” Southold Supervisor Scott Russell said yesterday.
“If the EPA is not responsive, I will ask the town board to explore its legal options,” he said.
The L.I. Sound is a designated Estuary of National Significance and the government has spent many millions of dollars on efforts to restore the estuary, which has suffered from human impacts.
Southold has for years “vehemently opposed” the continuation of open water dumping because of concerns about its impact on water quality and its impact on finfish, lobsters and other aquatic species, Russell said in an interview when the plan was first released last year.
Critics of continued open-water dumping argue that the potential toxicity of dredge materials will have long-lasting impacts on the health of the estuary.
Suffolk County Legislator Al Krupski said yesterday he planned to contact the governor’s office to ask Gov. Andrew Cuomo to intervene.
“If that material had any value, it would be staying in Connecticut. They only want to dump the real garbage in the Sound,” Krupski said.
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