Region 1: EPA New England
Western and Central Long Island Sound Dredged Material Disposal Sites
There are four dredged material disposal sites in Long Island Sound, all located in Connecticut state waters and spread from west to east at roughly equal distances: Western Long Island Sound, Central Long Island Sound , Cornfield Shoals, and New London. The Western and Central Long Island Sound disposal sites were designated for long-term use by EPA as "Ocean Dredged Material Disposal Sites" (ODMDS) on June 5, 2005. The Cornfield Shoals and New London disposal sites were selected by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for short-term use and are due to close on December 16, 2016.
Periodic dredging and, therefore, dredged material disposal or placement are essential for ensuring safe navigation and facilitating marine commerce. If alternatives to open-water disposal are not available or feasible, EPA believes it's preferable to dispose of dredged material in only a few discrete locations so that it can be more easily managed and monitored to reduce potential adverse impacts on the surrounding marine environment. With the continuing need for dredged material disposal sites, and the impending expiration of the short-term site selections by the Corps for two of the four dredged material disposal sites in Long Island Sound, EPA and the USACE are pursuing designation of one or more long-term disposal sites to serve the eastern region of Long Island Sound. For more information, please visit the Eastern Long Island Sound Dredged Material Disposal Sites web page.
In 1998, to ensure the long-term availability of open-water disposal alternatives, EPA and the USACE agreed to conduct a formal site designation process following the criteria established in the MPRSA. Although EPA is the agency authorized by the MPRSA to designate dredged material disposal sites, the USACE usually participates in the development of the EIS as a cooperating agency because it has knowledge concerning the needs of the dredging program as well as technical expertise in the area of assessing the environmental effects of dredging and disposal. Consistent with past practice in designating dredged material disposal sites, EPA followed its "Statement of Policy for Voluntary Preparation of National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) Documents," and prepared an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) to evaluate different dredged material disposal alternatives. EPA also utilized its own NEPA-implementing regulations as well as those promulgated by the Council on Environmental Quality for additional guidance.
EPA and the USACE issued the EIS recommending designation of the Western and Central Long Island Sound disposal sites in April 2004. EPA received almost 3000 written comments on the EIS, mostly from elected officials and citizens from Long Island opposing the proposed action. The New York Coastal Management Program also objected to EPA’s federal consistency determination (required by the Coastal Zone Management Act) that the designation of the two disposal sites was consistent with the state’s coastal program enforceable policies.
To address concerns about the potential impact of dredged material disposal on Long Island Sound water quality and fisheries habitat, EPA included restrictions on the use of the sites in its final rulemaking on June 5, 2005. These restrictions, which are intended to reduce or eliminate the disposal of dredged material in Long Island Sound, are described briefly on the Long Island Sound Dredged Material Management Plan web page and extensively in the site designation rule, a link to which is provided below. Use of the sites pursuant to the designation rule may be suspended or terminated in accordance with these restrictions.
The Cornfield Shoals and New London disposal sites are closing because of a 1992 amendment to the Marine Protection, Research and Sanctuaries Act (MPRSA) that, for the first time, established a time limit on the availability of Corps-selected sites for disposal activity. The provision allows the selected site to be used for a five-year period beginning with the first disposal activity after the effective date of the provision – October 31, 1992 – and for an additional five-year period beginning with the first disposal activity commencing after completion of the first five-year period. Use of the site can, however, be extended if the site is designated by EPA for long-term use. Thus, the Corps can select disposal sites only for short-term, limited use, whereas Congress authorized EPA to undertake long-term site designations, subject to ongoing monitoring requirements to ensure the sites remain environmentally sound.
As dredged material disposal sites designated by EPA under the MPRSA, Western and Central Long Island Sound disposal sites are subject to detailed management and monitoring protocols to track site conditions and prevent the occurrence of unacceptable adverse effects. These management and monitoring protocols are described in the Western and Central Long Island Sound Site Management and Monitoring Plans (SMMPs), which were incorporated in the final EIS as Appendix J. EPA is authorized to close or limit the use of these sites to further disposal activity if their use causes unacceptable adverse impacts to the marine environment or human health.
EPA and the USACE share management and monitoring responsibilities for these disposal sites. The USACE conducts the majority of the monitoring through its longstanding Disposal Area Monitoring System (DAMOS), and provides technical reports on the results of its monitoring efforts which can be found on the USACE website.
Please visit the Federal Register Page to read the final and proposed notices.
Please visit the Environmental Impact Statements (EIS) Page for the Final Environmental Impact Statement for the Designation of Dredged Material Disposal Sites in Central and Western Long Island Sound.