We have strongly opposed a plan by the Army Corps of Engineers to continue to dump 53 million cubic yards of dredge spoils from Connecticut into the Long Island Sound over the next 30 years. Much of the concern has been focused on two longtime dump sites in the central and western Sound whose permits are expiring and require renewal. Now, it turns out, the Corps also wants to expand a location in the eastern Sound operating on temporary 5-year permits, make it permanent, and dump 22.6 million cubic yards over those 30 years.
This is a terrible idea. Threatening hard-won progress in restoring the Sound is bad enough. But the eastern Sound is designated an essential fish habitat by the federal government because it’s a breeding and nursery grounds for 15 important species, including winter flounder. Why would anyone want to dump muck, some of it toxic, there?
The controversy started a decade ago when then-Gov. George Pataki blocked a similar plan to continue dumping. New York, Connecticut, the Army Corps and the Environmental Protection Agency agreed that the Corps would come up with a plan that included alternatives to dumping — such as sending toxic materials to hazardous-waste landfills and using nontoxic dredge spoils to restore wetlands and cap landfills, as has been done elsewhere. The Corps says those options are too expensive, ignoring the cost of continuing to degrade Long Island Sound.
New York’s Department of State and Department of Environmental Conservation oppose the Army Corps’ plan. Our elected federal representatives need to get involved, too, and make clear to the Corps and the EPA that befouling the body of water that is an economic and recreational resource for the entire region must stop. — The editorial board