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Agencies reach accord on managing Long Island Sound dredged materials


Six government agencies tasked with regulating dredging activities in Long Island Sound have reached accord on a process to support the goal of reducing or eliminating open water disposal of dredged materials into the Sound while maintaining the economic viability of New York and Connecticut’s working ports.

The agreement ratifies the intent of three federal and three state agencies to formally administer a Regional Dredging Team to comply with the June 3, 2005, rulemaking by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) that designated open-water dredged material disposal sites in Central Long Island Sound (CLIS) and Western Long Island Sound (WLIS). The establishment of the Regional Dredging Team will assist dredging proponents in considering and evaluating various management options for their dredged material while a larger effort to develop a Dredged Material Management Plan (DMMP) for Long Island Sound is being conducted.

The agreement covers dredging projects in both New York State and Connecticut waters. The agencies establishing the agreement are the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation and New York State Department of State.

The Long Island Sound Regional Dredging Team (LISRDT) will review all federal dredging projects, and those non-federal dredging projects proposing more than 25,000 cubic yards of open water disposal at WLIS or CLIS. The team will evaluate all available information to ensure that a thorough effort has been conducted to identify practicable alternatives, and work to ensure that beneficial use alternatives are used whenever practical for some or all of the material. The team’s efforts will enhance communication and discussion among the participating agencies, and facilitate timely review and presentation of recommendations for the management and beneficial use of dredged material from the Sound. The team will also voluntarily provide advice on dredged material management for other dredging projects located on or in tributaries to the Sound.

Brig. Gen. Todd T. Semonite, commander of the Corps of Engineers North Atlantic Division, stated, “This agreement establishes a cohesive partnership to ensure future dredging projects in Long Island Sound will be conducted in a manner that is practical, cost-effective and protective of the environment. Dredging is a vital component of maintaining safe commercial and recreational navigation, and maritime economic activity within the harbors, channels and waterways that border Long Island Sound in New York and Connecticut.”

“The formation of this team is another milestone in our continuing efforts to ensure that dredged material management in Long Island Sound is conducted in an environmentally protective manner,” said Robert W. Varney, regional administrator of EPA’s New England office. “EPA remains committed to protecting and improving the ecological health of the Sound, and this collaborative effort between state and federal agencies will help ensure a healthy Sound.”

“Close collaboration is key to good environmental stewardship of the Long Island Sound,” said Alan J. Steinberg, EPA Region 2 administrator. “We are glad to be a partner in this important regional effort to ensure that dredged material is managed responsibly as we work to preserve and protect the Long Island Sound’s marine and coastal habitats.”

Connecticut DEP Commissioner Gina McCarthy said, “Dredging and responsible management of dredged sediments is vital to ensure the continued viability of Connecticut’s working ports. Our vision is that the DMMP process will identify cost-effective options to open water disposal and, when those options are not available or practical, define best management practices for open water disposal. In both cases, the process must also provide assurances to all parties and all of our residents, that any necessary disposal is conducted in a way that protects the natural resources of our waterways and of Long Island Sound.”

“This charter ensures that state and federal agencies will participate in a cohesive review of significant dredging projects to ensure that a thorough effort has been made to identify and use appropriate disposal options, whenever practical,” said DEC Commissioner Pete Grannis. “This coordinated team effort to provide guidance to project proponents is essential to support the goal of reducing or eliminating the need for open water disposal of dredged material in Long Island Sound and thereby, minimize adverse environmental impacts in this important National Estuary.”

“The establishment of the Regional Dredging Team and its charter is a significant interim step toward the identification and development of beneficial uses, treatment technologies, and new markets for dredged materials as alternatives to the disposal of dredged material in Long Island Sound,” stated N.Y. Secretary of State Lorraine A. Cortes-Vasquez.

The LISRDT team will also work to provide information to dredging proponents on known sites or beneficial uses potentially available as alternatives to open water disposal in Long Island Sound. Alternatives to be considered may include: closed mines and quarries; beach nourishment; landfills; brownfield sites; available dredged material processing facilities; habitat restoration projects; cement, concrete or other aggregates; and transportation infrastructure improvement projects. By providing information on all currently available practicable alternatives to open water disposal, the LISRDT will ensure effective implementation of the objectives of the designation restrictions.

The Long Island Sound Dredged Material Management Plan will include a comprehensive planning process to establish a strategy for environmentally sound, and cost-effective management of an estimated 20 million cubic yards of dredged sediments over the next 20 years. Efforts are underway to develop the scope of the DMMP effort. Public participation in the DMMP process will begin later in 2007.


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