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U.S. EPA designates area off Guam for disposal of clean sediments from dredging

Release Date: 09/08/2010
Contact Information: Dean Higuchi, 808-541-2711, higuchi.dean@epa.gov

(09/08/10) HONOLULU – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has published a Final Rule in the Federal Register designating an ocean disposal site offshore of Guam for clean sediments from dredging projects.

Dredging is necessary to maintain or improve safe navigation in existing ports and harbors, as well as when new shipping facilities are built. Whenever possible, the sediments from dredging projects are recycled, but sometimes that’s not feasible. On a small island such as Guam, upland capacity for reusing sediments is particularly limited. EPA’s action provides an environmentally sound alternative for managing Guam’s dredged sediments.

EPA selected the Guam Deep Ocean Disposal Site, or “G-DODS,” after more than two years of study as the location that best avoids environmental impacts while still being close enough to Guam to be affordable to use. In its final Environmental Impact Statement, issued this April, EPA concluded that disposal of clean sediments at G-DODS will not harm marine life or restrict offshore fishing.

“Clean dredged sediments are a resource, not a waste, and we encourage recycling them for beneficial uses such as wetlands restoration” said Alexis Strauss, Director of Water Programs for EPA’s Pacific Southwest region. “Once the site is open, we at EPA will be responsible for ensuring any ocean disposal conforms with strict regulations to protect Guam’s coastal waters.”

G-DODS is approximately 11 nautical miles northwest of Guam’s Apra Harbor, in water depths ranging from 8,200 and 9,055 feet. It will be officially open for use in 30 days. However, use of the site will still require government approval on a case-by-case basis. To date, no dredging projects have been issued permits. “Before any ocean disposal is permitted, the sediments must pass strict testing standards proving they are clean and non-toxic, and each project must show there are no available reuse opportunities,” said Allan Ota, an oceanographer on EPA’s Dredging Team.

G-DODS becomes the 12th ocean disposal site in EPA Region 9. There are 5 sites off the Hawaiian islands, and 6 more off the California coast.

Copies of Final Rule and supporting documents may be viewed at EPA’s website http://www.epa.gov/region9/water/dredging/gdods/ or by request.

For further information, please contact: Mr. Allan Ota, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Region 9, Dredging and Sediment Management Team (WTR-8), 75 Hawthorne Street, San Francisco, California 94105-3901, Telephone: (415) 972-3476 or FAX: (415) 947-3537 or E-mail: ota.allan@epa.gov.

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