New Setback in Town, State Effort to Save LI Sound from Dredging Damage

NORTH FORK, NY – It was another setback in Southold’s battle to save the Long Island Sound from dredged material as, despite a challenge to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency by the city, which was battling efforts to designate a new waste disposal site on the Sound, the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Court ruled that the new EPA site “passes the mark”.

New York State and the City of Southold challenged the EPA’s designation of the site under the Administrative Procedure Act, alleging a violation of the Coastal Areas Management Act.

The Second Circuit upheld Judge Edward Korman’s decision, per the Sept. 2 ruling.

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“It’s a disappointing setback,” said Southold Town supervisor Scott Rusell. “We continue to contend that the EPA’s approval of the dumping of contaminated dredge material in Long Island Sound is reckless, likely to cause environmental degradation, and is a complete violation of the very charge of the EPA. EPA as an administrative body.”

He added: “If we can’t count on the EPA to help us protect important national water bodies and estuaries like the Long Island Sound, then who can we count on? The approval of the agency to authorize the dumping of toxic waste from private dredging projects in Long Island Sound undoes years of efforts to restore it by conservation organizations, community and educational organizations and all levels of government agencies .”

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The decision to allow the dumping of dredged material in Long Island Sound is causing local officials and environmentalists to see red.

A federal appeals court’s September decision to allow the US Environmental Protection Agency – after a long battle by environmentalists and local governments to rein in the idea – has sparked anger.

New York State Congresswoman Jodi Giglio met with community leaders and officials to oppose the decision.

According to the CT Examiner, Connecticut Attorney General William Tong argued the decision was a necessity to support the state’s maritime economy.

Giglio fired back with concerns, shared by many years on Long Island, about the glaring environmental impacts.

“Long Island prides itself on keeping its shores clean and beaches pristine, a job that is extravagantly taxed thanks to this federal court ruling,” Giglio said. “Our state, federal and local governments have invested millions and millions in local ecological restoration and maintenance to ensure Long Island Sound remains a clean, healthy place for generations to come to enjoy.”

The federal court, she said, “condemned the Sound” — currently a stewardship and priority site for conservation because of its highly sensitive eelgrass beds, which are protected by New York’s Sea Grass Protection Act. York of 2012 – to pollution and degradation following the decision.

The proposed location, the Eastern Long Island Sound Disposal Site, Giglio said, “leads the race and has some of the strongest tidal currents on the East Coast.”

“The site is in an extremely shallow part of the Sound,” Giglio added. “The contaminants will be deposited directly on the shores of Fishers Island and will have a detrimental effect on what is arguably New York State’s last bastion of healthy and thriving seagrass beds. There are few places so ill-suited that this one.”

Giglio called on the EPA, the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers, and the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection to re-evaluate dredge spoil disposal options and “make decisions acceptable to all stakeholders and consistent with their mission to protect the environment, the economy, and the people who live along the strait.

“Long Island Sound should absolutely not be a dumping ground for questionable waste dredged from Connecticut rivers,” Rep. Lee Zeldin said.

Suffolk County Legislator Al Krupski agreed. “I would have thought that in our time there would have been more scientific decision on how to dispose of contaminated dredged material, and alternatives would have been thoroughly explored before choosing to dump it in Long Strait. Island. This is contrary to all efforts for this nationally significant estuary,” he said.

Environmentalists fought against the idea for years.

“The court’s decision to allow the dumping of dredged material from Connecticut’s urbanized rivers and harbors into the clean waters of eastern Long Island Sound is a costly and reckless step backwards in the multi-billion dollar public investment of dollars that has been committed to restoring the Sound for decades,” said Bob DeLuca, group president for the East End.

North Fork Environmental Council Chairman Mark Haubner added, “This amounts to a license to pollute our waterway and defeats the EPA’s mission to protect the environment.”

Russell has also voiced his concerns for years.

“The EPA’s decision to allow the dumping of contaminated dredge material from private companies at a dump site less than two miles from Fishers Island not only poses a threat to the residents of Southold Town, it will have profound negative effects on the environmental health of the Sound and those who depend on the Sound for their livelihoods – and will undo years of coordinated efforts to restore this nationally recognized estuary,” he said.

He added: “This decision will lead to nearly 54 million cubic meters of contaminated dredged material in Long Island Sound over the next 30 years. . . This is a nationally recognized estuary and the dumping of spoil is not only reckless, it is in fact in conflict with the very laws that the EPA has helped create over the years.The EPA’s mission is to protect us from acts like these, not to be part of them.

Brookhaven Town Supervisor Ed Romaine also objected. “New York is not dumping its dredged material in Long Island Sound and neither is Connecticut. This dumping will affect the aquamarine life and health of Long Island Sound and all who live off the sound,” did he declare.

In 2016, New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo filed a lawsuit to stop the spill in the eastern part of Long Island Sound.

In a letter signed by more than 30 federal, state, and local elected officials, the governor advised President Barack Obama and EPA officials that the state would take the necessary steps to prevent the EPA from issuing a rule allowing material dredged from Connecticut to be dumped in the eastern region of Long Island Sound.

Currently, two dredged material disposal sites exist in the Sound where sediment has been dumped since the 1980s, including Western Long Island Sound and Central Long Island Sound. The EPA has designated western and central Long Island Sound as disposal at sea sites for long-term use. The US Army Corps of Engineers uses the eastern sites for short-term disposal and the EPA has proposed making the sites permanent long-term sites, he explained.

The EPA said the central and western disposal sites do not have the capacity to accept additional dredged material.

A New York State review found that the East Long Island Sound Disposal sites are not needed because there is sufficient capacity at the Central and West Long Island Sound sites. to meet the needs of future disposal of dredged material, Cuomo said.

Adrienne Esposito, executive director of Citizens Campaign for the Environment, has long supported spill prevention: “Environmental and civic groups have consistently and vigorously opposed the EPA’s dredge spill program,” she said. . “We view the Sound as our front yard, or our backyard, but never as a dumping ground. We expect the EPA to protect the sound, not pollute the sound.”

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