October 4, 2016
Albany, NY

Governor Cuomo Announces New York State's Formal Objection to Federal Plan for Dredging Disposal Site in Eastern Long Island Sound Estuary

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Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced that New York State has formally objected to the Environmental Protection Agency's proposed plan to designate one or more dredged material disposal sites in the Eastern Long Island Sound. Following an examination of the plan by the state's Department of State, New York has found that the EPA's plan is inconsistent with New York State coastal policies. This formal objection is the latest in a long line of efforts to ultimately end the practice of disposing dredged material in Long Island Sound.

"The Long Island Sound is a treasured natural resource and a vital component of New York's economy," said Governor Cuomo. "We are fully committed to safeguarding this cherished body of water and we will take all necessary steps to protect it for future generations."

In 2005, New York State called for, and EPA agreed to, establish a goal of reducing or eliminating dredged material disposal in the open waters of the Long Island Sound. The EPA's plan to allow new dumping sites in eastern Long Island Sound contradicts this agreement.

According to the Department of State's examination, the EPA has not sufficiently considered the cumulative effects of dumping dredged materials into the Sound, does not prioritize alternatives to open water dumping, and didn’t go far enough in analyzing other existing and available disposal sites.

New York also maintains that increasing open-water disposal of dredged materials is inconsistent with public investment and policies that are already in place aimed at restoring the Long Island Sound. Further, the EPA has not been responsive to the State's concern about the agency's testing and its reliability and has made no assurances that the dredge material will not have a negative impact on the environment.

New York Secretary of State Rossana Rosado said, "The New York Department of State strongly opposes EPA's decision to dispose of dredged material in Eastern Long Island Sound. As proposed, the federal government’s plan threatens the sustainability and vibrancy of this critical natural resource, and will impede Governor Cuomo's objective of ending open water dumping in Long Island’s waters."

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Basil Seggos said, "Long Island Sound is a vital economic and ecological treasure that deserves the utmost protection, not outdated dredging management decisions that undermine its integrity. Governor Cuomo has once again made it clear that New York State will not stand idly by while the federal government continues to allow open water disposal of dirty dredge spoils throughout this amazing ecosystem."

There are currently two dredged material disposal sites in the Sound, where sediment has been dumped since the 1980s including Western Long Island Sound and Central Long Island Sound. The EPA designated the Western and Central Long Island Sound as ocean disposal sites for long-term use. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has been using the Eastern sites for short term disposal and now EPA is proposing to make these sites long-term permanent sites.

The EPA claims that the Central and Western disposal sites do not have the capacity to accept additional dredged materials and has issued a proposed rule, making the short-term dumping sites in eastern Long Island Sound, which are scheduled to expire on December 23, 2016, permanent.

In response, the New York Department of State and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation have already laid out the state's concerns regarding the plan and last month, Governor Cuomo sent a letter signed by more than 30 federal, state and local elected officials to President Obama and EPA officials saying that the state will take necessary steps to prevent the EPA from issuing a rule to establish these sites.

 

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