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EPA Fines Dredging Company for Violations of Ocean Dumping Act

Release Date: 05/05/2005
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For Immediate Release: Thursday, May 5, 2005

(#05046) NEW YORK -- Continuing its work to ensure the protection of local waterways, the U. S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) today announced that it has taken action against the New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC), a Not for Profit Public Benefit Corporation, for violating the Marine Protection, Research and Sanctuaries Act (MPRSA), commonly known as the Ocean Dumping Act. NYCEDC's contractor, Great Lakes Dredge and Dock Company, discharged unauthorized, over dredged material, into the Historic Area Remediation Site (HARS), outside of the designated area. The proposed penalty for the violation is $157,500.

"EPA keeps a close eye on improper ocean disposal operations to make sure material is sampled and tested and placed where it is supposed to go," said Kathleen C. Callahan, Acting EPA Regional Administrator. "It is important that EPA characterizes dredged material as safe so as to ensure that it will not cause undesirable effects on our waterways."

On February 19, 2004, EPA determined that the NYCEDC's proposal to dredge approximately 400,000 cubic yards of sediment, from the New York City Passenger Ship Terminal in New York, was adequately characterized and met the criteria for acceptability for ocean placement at the HARS. On March 26, 2004, NYCEDC was granted a permit for placement of the dredged material, which required a maximum depth of 36 feet below mean low water, plus two feet of allowable over depth. The permit also authorized maintenance dredging from an area of 950 feet by 200 feet between piers 88 and 90.

On March 31, 2004, Great Lakes Dredge and Dock Company, one of the largest dredging companies in the world, began dredging and continued for 46 days. All authorized material was placed as directed within the HARS. A post dredge survey, however, indicated that widespread and excessive over dredging had occurred. None of the over dredged material was sampled, nor authorized for placement in the ocean. This material could have harmful effects and unauthorized placement of the material at the HARS was a violation of MPRSA.

EPA and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers have developed stringent placement guidelines and criteria that must be followed by all parties engaged in placement of dredged materials in the ocean, pursuant to MPRSA. These incidents highlight the critical need to ensure that dredging is performed in a careful manner.