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N.Y. takes sound step against Army Corps

New York State has sued the federal government

New York State has sued the federal government to block a plan by the Army Corps of Engineers to dump dredge spoils into the Long Island Sound. Credit: Steven Sunshine

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo made a promise last summer, and Friday he followed through. He announced that New York State had filed suit against the federal government to block an ill-conceived plan by the Army Corps of Engineers to dump some 20 million cubic yards of dredge spoils into the eastern end of Long Island Sound.

Good for Cuomo, and for Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman, and for all the elected officials and environmentalists who have long been clamoring for this action.

It’s the latest step in a long battle over what to do with material that must be dredged from Connecticut’s harbors and waterways. The Corps has been dropping them into the Sound for decades, and now the Environmental Protection Agency has okayed another dump site in the Sound’s eastern end north and east of Orient Point, an area the feds themselves have designated an essential fish habitat. Though the sediment is tested before it’s dumped, some pesticides, heavy metals and other toxins likely will remain. It’s long past time to phase out the dumping but the Army Corps refuses to consider alternatives employed elsewhere, like restoring wetlands in Jamaica Bay or capping the Fresh Kills landfill in Staten Island. The suit charges that, among other things, the EPA did not consider all environmental impacts of the dumping and that increasing the volume of dumping and number of dump sites is inconsistent with work being done to restore the Sound.

That progress has been due to efforts undertaken in both New York and Connecticut. Bravo to New York for going to court to force the Army Corps to do its part.