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EPA Proposes Changes to Use of Two Long Island Sound Dredged Material Disposal Sites

Contact Information: 
David Deegan (deegan.dave@epa.gov)

BOSTON - EPA is proposing to amend its 2005 rule that designated the Central and Western Long Island Sound Dredged Material Disposal Sites. The proposed amendments will help meet the goal of reducing or eliminating dredged material disposal in open waters of the Sound. These amendments are available for public review and comment through March 25, 2016. EPA will also hold two public hearings on the proposed amendments in early March.

The amendments to the rule are intended to help reduce or eliminate open-water disposal of dredged material by requiring dredging project proponents to follow standards and procedures that will encourage the use of practicable alternatives to open-water disposal. One proposed procedure would be the establishment of a permanent, interagency "Long Island Sound Regional Dredging Team" to develop and promote the use of alternatives, such as using sand for beach nourishment.

The designation of dredged material disposal sites by EPA only makes those sites available for use by future dredging projects; it does not authorize the disposal of any material from any project. Any proposal to place dredged material at either the Central or Western Long Island Sound Dredged Material Disposal Site will have to obtain a project-specific authorization and must satisfy the stringent requirements of the ocean disposal regulations.

The original site designation rule, published on June 3, 2005, was based on an Environmental Impact Statement prepared by EPA and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) in 2004. The 2005 rule required the USACE to complete a regional Dredged Material Management Plan for Long Island Sound (LIS DMMP) that identifies alternatives to open water disposal and recommends standards and procedures for their use, and required EPA to then amend the rule to incorporate those standards and procedures within 120 days of completion of the LIS DMMP; EPA plans to do so no later than May 10, 2016.

The LIS DMMP is a planning document that identifies a wide range of potential alternatives to open-water disposal for all federal and non-federal dredging projects in the Long Island Sound region. The USACE completed the LIS DMMP on January 11, 2016, and announced its completion in the Federal Register on January 15, 2016. The LIS DMMP estimates that there is a potential dredging need of 53 million cubic yards in Long Island Sound over the 30-year planning horizon, but the USACE has stated that only a portion of that projected need is expected to be dredged due to federal budget constraints and the high cost of testing, dredging, and disposal for private dredging proponents. The USACE is responsible for maintaining 52 Federal navigation Projects in Long Island Sound and adjacent harbors and navigation channels.

All EPA-designated disposal sites are required to have Site Management and Monitoring Plans (SMMPs). The SMMPs for the Central and Western Long Island Sound sites that went into effect in 2005 are currently being reviewed and updated as required by law, and will be released for public comment in early March 2016.

The public involvement program conducted by EPA for the site designation in 2005 and by the USACE in 2015 for the LIS DMMP included numerous public information meetings, newsletters, e-mail distribution, and web site updates. The agencies also worked closely with other federal and state agencies through interagency project management teams as well as public information meetings.

EPA will hold two public hearings to receive comment on the proposed rule. The first will be held on Tuesday, March 1, 2016, from 5:00 p.m. - 7:00 p.m. (registration at 4:30 p.m.), Port Jefferson Free Library, 100 Thompson St., Port Jefferson, New York. The second meeting will be held on Wednesday, March 2, from 3:30 p.m. - 5:30 p.m. (registration at 3:00 p.m.) at the University of Connecticut, One University Place, Stamford, Conn.

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