EPA Finalizes Designation of Isles of Shoals North Dredged Material Disposal Site
BOSTON - The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has finalized the designation of a disposal site for dredged material off the coast of southern Maine and New Hampshire to serve the southern Maine, New Hampshire, and northern Massachusetts coastal region.
This designation, published in the Federal Register on September 25, 2020, will provide a new, long-term disposal site for federal, state and commercial marine dredging projects in this region. The newly designated site will replace the Cape Arundel site, the only other site for dredge material disposal in the area, which is scheduled to close next year.
"This designation allows our federal and state partners and New England marine industries to proceed with projects that are critical to our region's economic prosperity while reducing impacts on air quality and the marine environment," said EPA New England Regional Administrator Dennis Deziel. "The new Isles of Shoals North site reduces the likelihood of unsafe navigational conditions and potential adverse impacts to marine ecosystems."
"The New England District is very happy that the Final Rule to designate Isles of Shoals North as an Ocean Dredged Material Disposal Site is moving forward. This Disposal Site will be critical to our ability to maintain our Federal Navigation Projects to help ensure the safety of the maritime public. We appreciate the efforts of all those involved and want to thank the US EPA and other resource agencies for their continued partnership with us," said Scott Acone, Deputy District Engineer (Project Management), U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, New England District.
The Isles of Shoals North Disposal Site is located in the Gulf of Maine, approximately 12.4 miles east of Portsmouth, New Hampshire, 11 miles southeast of Kittery, Maine, and 7 miles northeast of Eastern Island, the closest of the Isles of Shoals. There are currently no EPA-designated dredged material disposal sites off the coast of southern Maine, New Hampshire, and northern Massachusetts. There is one site selected by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for the disposal of dredge material in this area, the Cape Arundel Disposal Site, but that site will no longer be available after December 31, 2021, when its Congressionally-authorized term of use expires.
EPA is designating the Isles of Shoals North Disposal Site as an ocean dredged material disposal site, pursuant to the Marine Protection, Research, and Sanctuaries Act.
The Isles of Shoals North site will be open for use on October 26, 2020 (30 days after publication in the Federal Register), which will make it available for the disposal of material from three dredging projects in New Hampshire's Rye Harbor that are scheduled to begin on November 15, 2020.
The Isles of Shoals site is 10 nautical miles closer to Rye Harbor than the Cape Arundel Disposal Site. The 20 nautical miles saved for each round trip provides environmental benefits including reduced air emissions and less of chance of unintended environmental consequences during transit to the site. The closer proximity will also yield significant cost saving for federal, state and private dredging projects.
In addition to those in Rye, there are many other important navigation-dependent businesses and industries in this region, including shipping (especially the transportation of petroleum fuels and bulk materials), recreational boating-related businesses, marine transportation, commercial and recreational fishing, interstate ferry operations, and U.S. Navy and Coast Guard facilities. Continued access to harbors, berths, and mooring areas is vital to ensuring the continued economic health of these industries, and to preserving the ability of the region to import fuels, bulk supplies, and other commodities at competitive prices and to preserve ocean access for the commercial fishing fleet.
Unlike short-term dredged material disposal sites selected by the USACE, EPA-designated sites must have a site management and monitoring plan to ensure that use of the site does not cause any significant adverse impacts to human health or the marine environment. This plan includes management practices such as marine mammal observer requirements and speed limits for disposal vessels to help prevent collisions with whales and other marine life, and notification procedures to alert fishermen and lobstermen when disposal operations will take place.
The Final Rule to designate the Isles of Shoals North Disposal Site Federal Register Notice: https://www.federalregister.gov/d/2020-21006