Environmentalists are calling on the EPA to make changes to a 30-year dredging plan for Long Island Sound.
The plan was released in January by the Army of Corps of Engineers, and it requires approval from the EPA.
It calls for continued dumping of dredged materials into areas of the Sound. Those materials, like silt and sand, are dredged by the Corps from waterways — mainly in Connecticut — to keep them navigable.
The plan received criticism from environmentalists at a public hearing in Port Jefferson.
"We expect the EPA to be protecting Long Island Sound not fostering a plan that degrades Long Island Sound," said Adrienne Esposito, executive director of Citizens Campaign for the Environment. She said she worried the dredged materials could pollute the Sound and that she wants the EPA to make sure the Army Corps phases out open water dumping in the Sound.
"There’s no benchmarks, there’s no achievement goals that they have crafted," she said.
Stephen Perkins, director of Ocean and Coastal Policy at the EPA, said the EPA has proposed amendments to the plan that will provide alternatives to open water dumping. One of those alternatives is using some of the silt and sand to revitalize marshes rather than dumping it into the Sound.
"The proposed amendments are intended to support the overarching goal of reducing or eliminating open water disposal by establishing standards and procedures that will encourage practicable alternatives to open water disposal," he said.
The Army Corp’s plan would require either state or local governments, or private entities to cover the cost of any of those alternatives.
The EPA is accepting public comment through March 25th.