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EPA Publishes Final Rule For ELDS In The Federal Register

December 6, 2016
Press Release

WASHINGTON, DC —Today, Congressman Joe Courtney (CT-02) made the following statement after the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) published their final rule for the Eastern Long Island Sound Dredging Disposal Site (ELDS) in the Federal Register:

“It’s hard to overstate how important dredging and dredging disposal is to the maritime economy across the Long Island Sound region,” said Courtney. “Without the regular dredging of ports and waterways, a vast array of economic activities in our region ranging from recreational boating to commercial maritime transportation, shipbuilding, the Coast Guard Academy, and the submarine base could not function. Today’s publication of the final rule for the eastern Long Island Sound represents the final step in a long process to create environmentally responsible and manageable disposal sites across the entire length of the Sound. This eagerly awaited action follows years of intense environmental reviews, robust public engagement and diligent consideration of all views with regard to the future of dredging in our region. I want to thank the EPA and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for their hard work throughout this process.

Courtney added, “Over the past two months, we have seen important developments that underscore the need for this site. For example, the New England Central Rail broke ground on new upgrades to existing rail lines which will greatly increase the freight capacity in the Port of New London adding to the need for regular dredging of the harbor. The U.S. Navy has also committed over $5 million to plan and design a major pier replacement at the base – a project that will need dredging and, without this site, could see significant increases in costs. The final designation of this site could not come at a more important time for our region.”

On Sunday, The Day newspaper published an opinion editorial written by Courtney on the importance of dredging top the local economy in eastern Connecticut.

Courtney has actively advocated for the designation of a final eastern disposal site. For example, he testified at the [date] public hearing on the DMMP, stressing the need for an eastern disposal site. He also coordinated letters from the Connecticut and Rhode Island Delegations in support of the plan.

  • To read a letter sent by members from the Connecticut and Rhode Island delegations to the EPA in July, click here
  • To read a letter sent by members from the Connecticut and Rhode Island delegations to the EPA reaffirming support for the new site in October, click here

Designation of the ELDS has been a particular priority for the regions military and defense industrial base stakeholders, noting how vital access to a dredge disposal site is to submarine construction and national security.

  • To read a letter of support for the ELDS proposed rule from Groton SUBASE commander Captain A. Whitescarver, click here
  • To read a letter of support for the ELDS proposed rule from Electric Boat President Jeffrey Geiger, click here

Additional Background:

Following the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ final Dredged Material Management Plan (DMMP) issued in January, the EPA determined that a new site was necessary for long-term open-water dredged material disposal in the Long Island Sound region. The two dredging disposal sites currently in operation, Cornfield Shoals and New London, are both short-term sites managed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers which are set to be closed later this year.

According to the DMMP, Long Island Sound waterways contribute more than $9 billion annually to the economic output in the Connecticut, Rhode Island and New York Long Island Sound region and support more than 55,000 jobs.

The periodic dredging of harbors and channels is essential to ensuring safe navigation. All dredged material placed in the Sound must pass stringent EPA testing requirements to determine whether the material is toxic. Any material that does not pass these tests will not be eligible for open-water disposal in Long Island Sound. EPA will require similar restrictions for the ELDS as those that were recently finalized for central and western Long Island Sound disposal sites. The new restrictions notably include a mandate that alternative means for disposal of dredged material, such as beach nourishment, be used whenever practicable before turning to open-water disposal.