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Federal dredging plan to put river sediment in Long Island Sound opposed by local officials

New York State Senator Ken LaValle (center), along

New York State Senator Ken LaValle (center), along with, from left to right, Town of Brookhaven Supervisor Ed Romaine, Rep. Steve Englebright, Brookhaven Councilwoman Jane Bonner and environmentalist Kevin McAllister appear at a press conference together at Cedar Beach in Mt. Sinai on Monday, Aug. 17, 2015. Photo Credit: Joseph D. Sullivan

State and local officials said on Monday a proposed federal dredging plan could cause contaminated sediment removed from Connecticut rivers to be dumped into the Long Island Sound.

During a news conference at Cedar Beach in Mount Sinai, local officials said they would speak in opposition to the plan during a public hearing next week in Port Jefferson. They said dredged "spoils" could harm wildlife, and they said there was little time before next week's hearing to study a 1,300-page report on the project released Monday by the Army Corps of Engineers and the federal Environmental Protection Agency.

"This has basically become . . . a way to give the public the bum's rush," Assemb. Steven Englebright (D-East Setauket) said.

In a statement, EPA officials said the Army Corps of Engineers is "required to adhere to environmental criteria developed by EPA, and decisions are subject to EPA's concurrence." Written comments may be submitted to the Army Corps through Oct. 5.

The Army Corps website says that the goal of the dredging is to improve navigation on those rivers.

Brookhaven Supervisor Edward P. Romaine said federal officials plan to dump sediment from the dredging project in four locations a few miles off the Connecticut coastline. Englebright said the sediment could contain pesticides, toxins, chemicals and "poisons of all kinds."

State Sen. Kenneth LaValle (R-Port Jefferson) said two of the dumping spots are near Plum Island and Fishers Island, both part of Southold Town. He called the dumping plan "stupid," because it could harm Long Island's fishing and boating industries.

"We've put millions of dollars in federal and state [funds] to clean up the Long Island Sound," he said. "We really have a big stake in this. This is part of our economic development."

Local officials said the federal Draft Dredged Material Management Plan is posted on the Army Corps website.

Public hearings will be held at 6 p.m. Aug. 24, at Village Center, 101-A East Broadway in Port Jefferson, and 6 p.m. Aug. 25 at the Marriott Long Island hotel, 101 James Doolittle Blvd., Uniondale. Public hearings also will be held in Stamford, Connecticut, on Aug. 26 and in New London, Connecticut, on Aug. 27.

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