On Tuesday, December 6th, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced that New York plans to take legal action against the United States Environmental Protection Agency and challenge the EPA’s decision to designate the eastern Long Island Sound as a permanent disposal site for dredged materials.
“As I have said time and again, New York is deeply concerned with the EPA’s efforts to designate a permanent dumping site in the eastern part of the Long Island Sound,” noted Governor Cuomo. “Continuing to use this precious economic and ecological resource as a dumping ground is unacceptable and – on behalf of current and future generations of New Yorkers – we intend to fight this decision using any and all legal means.”
In 2005, the EPA established a regulatory goal of lowering or eradicating dredged material disposal in the Long Island Sound’s open waters. Allowing these new dumping sites in the Sound would contradict the EPA’s attempt to eliminate dredged material disposal.
Concerned Citizens of Montauk (CCOM), whose mission is to preserve and protect Montauk’s unique environment and ecology through education, advocacy and grassroots action, has been working with a coalition of environmental partners over the past two years to oppose the dumping. “Montauk and the eastern end of Long Island are water dependent communities. Anything that we do that disturbs our fisheries and the qualities of our water is an affront to our way of life and our ability to make a living,” said CCOM President Jeremy Samuelson. “This is a senseless project that was first proposed ten years ago. It was a bad idea then. It’s an even worse idea now. We have to find a more sensible way to get rid of this dredge spoil.”
“I commend Governor Cuomo for this action to prevent the disposal of dredged material in the Eastern Long Island Sound,” praised New York Secretary of State Rossana Rosado. “We remain committed to protecting these waters, which serve many New Yorkers in so many ways.”
A study by the New York Departments of State and Environmental Conservation found that the EPA has not adequately weighed the overall effects of allowing dredged materials into the Sound and did not extensively search for other options.
“Long Island Sound is an essential economic and environmental treasure in New York and one in which the state has invested billions to restore,” shared Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Basil Seggos. “DEC commends Governor Cuomo’s resolve in ensuring this vital estuary is not turned into a dumping ground.”
The State believes that allowing the volume of open-water disposal of dredged materials to increase and additional open water disposal sites also contradicts established policies that address restoring the Long Island Sound.