Dredging Site Proposed for Eastern Long Island Sound

There are currently four ocean dredged material disposal sites in Long Island Sound, all in Connecticut territorial waters and spread from west to east: Western Long Island Sound, Central Long Island Sound, Cornfield Shoals and New London. (EPA)

There are currently four ocean dredged material disposal sites in Long Island Sound, all in Connecticut territorial waters and spread from west to east: Western Long Island Sound, Central Long Island Sound, Cornfield Shoals and New London. (EPA)

By ecoRI News staff

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently issued a proposal to designate a dredged material disposal site to serve the eastern Long Island Sound region. The Eastern Long Island Sound Disposal Site (ELDS) would be offshore of New London, Conn., and would be available for the disposal of dredged material from harbors and navigation channels in eastern Long Island Sound in the states of Connecticut and New York.

The federal agency is proposing the same restrictions on the use of this site as it proposed for the central and western Long Island Sound disposal sites, to support the goal of reducing or eliminating open-water disposal of dredged material in the sound. These restrictions are intended to promote the beneficial use of dredged material, such as beach nourishment, or other alternatives to open-water disposal whenever practicable, according to the EPA.

The proposed action is described in a Draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (DSEIS). The EPA is scheduled to hold two public hearings on the proposed rule in late May.

May 25 in New York from 1-3 p.m. at the Suffolk County Community College Culinary Arts Center, 20 East Main St. in Riverhead, and 5:30-7:30 p.m. at the Mattituck-Laurel Library, 13900 Main Road in Mattituck.

May 26, 2016 in Connecticut from 1-3 p.m. and from 5-7 p.m. at the University of Connecticut, Avery Point, Academic Building, Room 308, 1084 Shennecossett Road in Groton.

The DSEIS is considered supplemental because it updates and builds on analyses that were conducted for the 2005 Long Island Sound Environmental Impact Statement that supported the designation of the Central and Western Long Island Sound dredged material disposal sites. The DSEIS recommends designation of the ELDS as the preferred alternative from the range of options considered, according to the EPA.

The EPA determined that a site was necessary because there are currently no disposal sites designated for long-term use in the eastern Long Island Sound region, dredging needs exceed the available capacity at existing sites, and regulations require EPA designation for any long-term dredged material disposal site. The Army Corps of Engineers estimates the dredging needs in eastern Long Island Sound to be nearly 23 million cubic yards over the next 30 years.

While the EPA, the Army Corps, and the states of Connecticut and New York are committed to developing and promoting the use of alternatives to open-water disposal, the EPA has determined that an open-water disposal site still is necessary in case an alternative isn’t available for some projects. Periodic dredging of harbors and channels is essential for ensuring safe navigation and facilitating marine commerce and recreation, according to the agency.

The designation of dredged material disposal sites by EPA only makes those sites available for use by future dredging projects; it doesn’t authorize the disposal of any material from any project.

Comments on the proposed rule and DSEIS may be submitted to ELIS@epa.gov or mailed to: Jean Brochi, USEPA, 5 Post Office Square, Suite 100, Mail Code: OEP06-1, Boston, MA 02109 by June 27.