NYS Dept of State Public Notice re: Electric Boat dredging disposal at ELDS

The NY DOS  is looking for comments from the public on the dumping of dredge spoils by General Dynamics-Electric Boat at the open water site near Fishers Island, NY

FI Conservancy Letter from Tom Sargent

FI Conservancy Letter from Tom Sargent

New York State Department of State
ATTN: Consistency Unit
One Commerce Plaza, Suite 1010
99 Washington Avenue
Albany, NY 12231
November 25, 2019

F-2019-0672

Ladies and Gentlemen:

Fishers Island Conservancy strongly opposes the proposed open-water dumping by General Dynamics-Electric Boat Corp. (EB) of 890,000 cubic yards of Thames River dredge spoils at the recently designated Eastern Long Island Sound Disposal Site (ELDS). We oppose this dumping for some of the same reasons that we opposed the EPA designation of ELDS in the first place:

  • ELDS is located at the head of the Race, which has some of the strongest tidal currents on the East Coast.
  • The waters of ELDS are very shallow, making it vulnerable to bottom erosion from storm action as well as tidal currents.
  • ELDS is located near the truly unique finfish and lobster habitat in the Race canyon and other fish and shellfish habitats along the Connecticut shore and on Fishers Island, just two miles away, including the Island’s unique eelgrass habitat for fish and shellfish.
  • A significant portion of the spoils to be dumped will be fine grained materials contained in the “black mayonnaise” at the bottom of the Thames. Fine grains are carriers of chemical contaminants and are particularly subject to tidal transport when suspended in the water column at the time of dumping or scoured and stirred up later by storm and tidal action. Even if we could rely on the assurances of EPA/USACE that all toxic materials from the EB dredging project will be removed and disposed of at upland sites and only “suitable” materials will be dumped at ELDS, “suitable” materials are not clean materials and contain varying levels of contamination, which becomes a special problem in a dumping project of this magnitude.

In addition, the Conservancy opposes the open-water dumping of 890,000 cy of untreated spoils at ELDS because it would be inconsistent with – indeed, in flagrant conflict with – the New York Coastal Zone Management Program (CZMP) and its component the Local Waterfront Restoration Plan (LWRP) of Southold (Fishers Island is a part of the Town of Southold) and, accordingly, in violation of the federal Coastal Zone Management Act. The dispersal of these spoils into the waters, beaches, harbors and marine habitats of Fishers Island and, through the Race, to those of Block Island Sound, Plum and the Gull Islands and Southold on the North Fork of Long Island would contravene a number of the mandates of the CZMP and LWRP, including specifically those to protect water quality from the adverse impacts of disposal of dredge spoils and to limit the introduction of new contaminated sediments; and to promote sustainable marine resources and habitats and protect water-dependent uses of such resources, such as sport fishing in the Race, lobster fishing and oyster aquaculture on Fishers Island.  Moreover, at the economic policy level, the EB dumping would be completely inconsistent with the huge investment of federal, state and local funds to protect and improve the ecology of Eastern Long Island Sound.

The Conservancy said in its comment to the EPA on the designation of ELDS that it would be hard to find a worse place than ELDS for an open-water dumpsite in Eastern Long Island Sound. It would be hard to find a worse dredging project to dump there than 890,000 cy of silt and other spoils from the Thames River bottom. And it is hard to imagine a dumping project more inconsistent with the mandates of the CZMP, the LWRP and the Coastal Zone Management Act than this one.

The Conservancy has never opposed dredging needed for harbor and river maintenance for important projects such as the Navy’s Columbia Class submarine program – only the open-water dumping of spoils at the New London dumpsite or elsewhere in Eastern Long Island Sound. If open-water dumping of some or all of the 890,000 cy of “suitable” spoils is necessary because EB does not have adequate dewatering or other facilities for upland disposal of the entire 984,000 cy of spoils from the dredging, one would hope that it and the Navy could find somewhere in the multi-billion dollar Columbia program (we have heard estimates of $12-24 billion) the relatively few dollars it would take to haul the spoils to the open-ocean site off Rhode Island (as mandated by the Ocean Dumping Act, in any case) or the deeper, calmer waters of the Central Long Island Site off New Haven and avoid degradation of the unique, fragile ecosystem of Eastern Long Island Sound.

Respectfully submitted,

Thomas A. Sargent, President

Island Community Board letter from Willard Soper

Island Community Board letter from Willard Soper

ISLAND COMMUNITY BOARD
P.O. Box 464, Fishers Island, NY 06390
Tel: 631-788-7990  |   Email: ficommunityboard@gmail.com

New York State Department of State
November 29, 2019
Attention: Consistency Review Unit
One Commerce Plaza, Suite 1010
99 Washington Avenue
Albany, New York 12231
mailto: CR@dos.ny.gov

Re: F-2019-0672

The Island Community Board of Fishers Island, speaking for the community as a whole, is deeply concerned by the proposed dumping by the Electric Boat Company of 890,000 cubic yards of dredged material on the Eastern Long Island site ELDS. The volume of the sediment to be dumped, its chemical nature, the environmentally sensitive nature of the rich marine life in the neighborhood of the dump site, and the exposure of the site to strong tidal currents, are all causes for alarm.

Fishers Island is a unique community, known for its natural beauty and exceptional shoreline. The waters around Fishers Island harbor 96% of the enduring eelgrass (Zostera marina) ecosystem within New York State’s jurisdiction of the sound, and the richness of the surrounding marine life, which supports business activity on the island, and is essential to the world-renowned sports fishing that helps attract the island’s large seasonal population. Fishing constitutes, in addition, a source of food supply for the year-round population. Massive dumping of potentially toxic materials 4 miles from the island threatens the sensitive ecological balance of this unique site.

The proposed dumping threatens the businesses, the leisure pursuits and the environmental progress of Fishers Island. The Island community strenuously opposes the plan, and requests that the Electric Boat Company and the competent authorities find alternate solutions for the disposal of the dredged material.

Sincerely yours,

Willard B. Soper II
President Island Community Board

New York State Department of State
Public Notice F-2019-0672
Date of Issuance – October 30, 2019 

The New York State Department of State (DOS) is required by Federal regulations to provide timely public notice for the activities described below, which are subject to the consistency provisions of the Federal Coastal Zone Management Act of 1972, as amended.

The applicant has certified that the proposed activity complies with and will be conducted in a manner consistent with the approved New York State Coastal Management Program. The applicant’s consistency certification and accompanying public information and data are available for inspection at the New York State Department of State offices located at One Commerce Plaza, 99 Washington Avenue, in Albany, New York. The applicant’s consistency certification and supporting information are also available electronically at: http://www.dos.ny.gov/opd/programs/pdfs/Consistency/F-2019-0672-ElectricBoatConsistencyCertification.pdf 

In F-2019-0672, General Dynamics-Electric Boat Corporation (Electric Boat), Thames River, 75 Eastern Point Road, Groton, CT; The applicant is proposing to perform significant infrastructure improvements at the existing facility. The description submitted states “As part of the Facilities Master Plan (FMP), Electric Boat intends to implement modifications to the existing in-water and terrestrial infrastructure in the South Yard area to accommodate the US Navy’s plan to design and build a new class of ballistic missile submarines (SSBNs), the COLUMBIA class. In-water activities involve dredging an estimated 984,000 cubic yards (cy) of sediment from the South Yard to support a floating dry dock submersion basin, berthing of support and transport vessels, and staging of a floating dry dock that will accommodate the larger COLUMBIA class submarines.”

On June 6,2019 the US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) and US Environmental Protection Agency USEPA) issued a Suitability Determination finding that 890,000 cubic yards of dredged sediment from the South Yard was suitable for open-water disposal at the Eastern Long Island Sound Disposal Site (ELDS) under USACE application no. NAE-2017-02739. The remaining 94,000 cy of dredged material was determined to be unsuitable for open-water placement and will be placed at an upland location. The ELDS is located in Long Island Sound and is a 1nautical mile (nmi) x 1.5 nmi irregularly shaped polygon located at a center point of 41.27184N; -72.10375W. More information regarding this site can be found at: https://www.nae.usace.army.mil/Missions/Disposal-Area-Monitoring-System-DAMOS/Disposal-Sites/ or at: https://www.epa.gov/ocean-dumping/dredged-material-management-long-island-sound.

Any interested parties and/or agencies desiring to express their views concerning the above proposed activities may do so by filing their comments, in writing, no later than 4:30 p.m., 30 days from the date of publication of this notice, or, by Friday, November 29, 2019. 

Comments should be addressed to the New York State Department of State, ATTN: Consistency Review Unit, One Commerce Plaza, Suite 1010, 99 Washington Avenue, Albany, New York 12231. Telephone (518) 474-6000; Fax (518) 473-2464. Comments can also be submitted electronically via e-mail at: CR@dos.ny.gov. Please include the file no. F-2019-0672 in your submission.

This notice is promulgated in accordance with Title 15, Code of Federal Regulations, Part 930.

[FI.net Editor’s Note: Received & Posted November 6, 2019]

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