Pols unite in opposing EPA dumping plan

The Island Now

The Environmental Protection Agency should dump its plan to continue unloading dredged material into the Long Island Sound, North Shore lawmakers from both parties said this week.

“The only thing the federal government should dump into the Long Island Sound is more money to help clean it up,” state Sen. Jack Martins (R-Old Westbury) said.

The federal agency last month proposed a new rule to continue allowing dumping of sand and silt dredged from Connecticut waterways for up to 30 years at two sites in the eastern Long Island Sound, which were set to close in December. Dumping would continue at two sites near western and central Long Island.

Martins and state Assembly members Edward Ra (R-Franklin Square), Michelle Schimel (D-Port Washington) and Michaelle Solages (D-Elmont) signed Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s Aug. 4 letter threatening legal action against the EPA if it decides to let dumping continue at the eastern sites. 

Democratic U.S. Reps. Kathleen Rice and Steve Israel — whom Martins is running to replace — also signed on.

The EPA says there is a “demonstrated, continuing need” for open-water dumping out east, but state officials argue there is plenty of room at the western sites and say the EPA should keep to its 2005 plan to end dumping at the eastern sites, located near Cornfield Shoals and New London, Conn.

Local lawmakers agree, saying more dumping of potentially toxic material would work against recent local efforts to protect the Sound.

Tom Suozzi, a former Nassau County executive and Martins’ Democratic opponent in the 3rd Congressional District race, said the EPA plan is “irresponsible and poses a threat to our communities.” 

Adam Haber, a Roslyn Democrat who is seeking to replace Martins in the state Senate, said that it would “turn back the clock” on recovery efforts — a phrase Elaine Phillips, his Republican opponent, also used.

“Study after study shows that our efforts are working and the Sound is bouncing back from decades of dumping and abuse. This plan threatens that progress,” said Phillips, the mayor of the Village of Flower Hill.

Local efforts to help the Sound include the Town of North Hempstead’s $1.8 million plan to reduce the flow of nitrogen into the Sound’s waters by installing a sewer system at North Hempstead Beach Park in Port Washington.

The Village of Flower Hill also filters stormwater to prevent the pollutants from flowing to the Sound, Phillips said.

All four dumping sites are in Connecticut’s territory. 

Officials there told The Associated Press that dredging and dumping ensure ships and ferries can safely navigate its waterways for commercial, recreational and military purposes, and that dumped material is not toxic.

The EPA has not officially decided to allow long-term dumping at the two eastern sites, and it still plans to explore and ultimately implement alternatives to dumping in the Sound.

“The EPA has not made a final decision, but we believe the proposal strikes an appropriate balance between the need for dredging to maintain safe and efficient navigation, and our desired outcome to restore and protect Long Island Sound,” an EPA spokesman, Dave Deegan, said in a statement to the  AP.

By Noah Manskar

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