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Site Designated in Rhode Island Sound for Safe Long-Term Disposal of Dredged Sediment

Release Date: 12/16/2004
Contact Information:

For Immediate Release: December 16, 2004

Contact: David Deegan, 617-918-1017; Release # dd-04-12-05

BOSTON – Today EPA announced the designation of a long-term disposal site for sediment dredged from harbors and navigation channels in the Rhode Island region. EPA's action requires the disposal site to be monitored on an ongoing basis to ensure protection of human health and environmental quality in the Sound, and dredged material will continue to be evaluated prior to permitting for disposal at the site.

“EPA has worked closely with the public and interested parties to ensure that we are protecting the ecological health of Rhode Island sound, while also establishing a much needed long-term disposal site for sediment dredged in that area,” said Robert W. Varney, regional administrator for EPA’s New England regional office. “It’s important to maintain safe navigation for both commercial and recreational vessels, and our collaboration will ensure environmentally sensitive management of dredged material from the Rhode Island region.”

The Rhode Island Sound Disposal Site, which is one square nautical mile in size, is approximately nine nautical miles south of Point Judith and 6.5 nautical miles due east of Block Island. It is the same location as Site 69B, selected for short-term use by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to receive dredged material from the Providence River and Harbor Maintenance Dredging Project.
Congress authorizes the Corps to select disposal sites for short-term, limited use. EPA is authorized to make long-term site designations, subject to ongoing monitoring requirements to ensure the sites remain environmentally sound. EPA’s designation of the disposal site makes it available for approximately 20 years of dredged material disposal once the sediment is determined to be suitable for ocean disposal under federal criteria. Each dredging project continues to be required to evaluate different disposal options. Dredged material proposed for ocean disposal would be required to meet stringent testing criteria.

"We look forward to continuing to work with our partners -- EPA, state agencies and the local communities throughout Rhode Island and southeastern Massachusetts -- to support navigational and dredging needs through our participation in the designation of long-term disposal sites," commented Col. Thomas Koning, District Engineer of the Army Corps' New England District.

The basis for EPA’s site designation is described in a Final Environmental Impact Statement, completed in Oct. 2004. The EIS was prepared by EPA and the Corps’ New England District, in close cooperation with other federal and state agencies and in consultation with local representatives of the marine trades industries, environmental groups, and the fishing and shellfishing communities. After determining the future dredged material disposal needs of the region, the EIS evaluated potential disposal areas, concentrating on two sites and a “no action” alternative. Upon completion of this detailed evaluation, EPA concluded that there was a need for designation of a long-term dredged material disposal site and that the Rhode Island Sound Disposal Site was less likely to cause adverse environmental impacts than the other alternatives.

The Final Environmental Impact Statement and other related information is available at: http://www.epa.gov/region1/eco/ridredge/index.html . The decision is available at the Federal Register web site at: http://www.epa.gov/fedrgstr/EPA-WATER/2004/December/Day-16/w27439.htm. Also, copies of the study, site monitoring plans and management plans are available at local town libraries in Rhode Island and southeastern Massachusetts.

Related Information:
Rhode Island Sound