Summary of the Issues

Brief Dredging Summary   Oct 2014

3 page Dredging Summary Sept 2014

Click here for: Dredging Summary 4-05-2014

Dredge Spoils Dump

The ACOE’s Pre-Application public informational meeting held in Bangor, Maine  News Report podcast,  Amy Browne, WERU 2/25/14

“The location of the dredging would be within a few miles of the area that last week was closed to lobster fishing for at least 2 years while….testing that was done last year near the adjacent Sprague Energy pier found high levels–above reporting limits–of a large variety of contaminants and known carcinogens including  pesticides, heavy metals, and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons.”



  • No contaminated dredge spoils should be dumped in any disposal site in Penobscot Bay.  Contaminated dredge spoils must only be disposed upland, at an appropriate hazardous waste facility.
  • No public funding for this proposed “improvement” dredging should be provided prior to a thorough assessment of the potential environmental and economic impacts of this dredging and dumping in the Bay and the need for this project, by conducting a full Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) as required by the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).
  • The Corps’ recommendations in favor of “improvement” dredging are based on inadequate, incomplete and outdated data from 2008 and earlier.  All environmental and economic data should be updated to reflect current information and impacts before any project can proceed.
  • The core sampling analysis attached to the recent Sprague DEP application demonstrates the presence of high, unsafe and unhealthful levels of contaminants, including mercury, making them inappropriate for disposal in the Bay in the prime lobster fishing grounds.  Updated core sampling and testing by the Corps should be done as part of a comprehensive EIS using the test methods endorsed by the federal court’s exports in the HoltraChem mercury contamination case.
  • An increased-level of mercury contamination in Pen-Bay lobsters (which account for a significant amount – at least 46% — of the total Maine lobster catch) could damage the entire Maine lobster brand and severely tarnish the reputation of this iconic and essential component of the Maine economy.  No dredge materials containing mercury should be dumped in the bay and no new area of sediment should be disturbed to expand the Mack Point channel area if mercury is present in the sediment.  The impact of dredging at Mack Point, on spreading the mercury contamination from HoltraChem must be analyzed before any dredging commences in Searsport. Mercury testing should be done in accordance with the distillation methodology detailed in the expert reports submitted to the federal court in the HoltraChem litigation.
  • The proposed “improvement” dredging would also adversely impact Searsport Harbor and areas critical for the restoration of the Atlantic salmon, short-nose sturgeon, clamming and eel grass necessary for several fisheries to be sustainable.  An EIS is needed to fully assess such impacts.
  • In May of 2012, the Corps of Engineers and U.S. Coast Guard determined that “no dredging was required” for the proposed addition of 4 to 8 ocean-going LPG tankers a year, with a draft of 39.7’, to service a proposed LPG storage tank and terminal at Mack Point – which would have been the largest such facility on the East Coast of the United States.  In light of that determination, no justification exists for this dredge project – which is proposed to facilitate the current tanker traffic to Mack Point – which can service this port without additional dredging.
  • According to the Corps’ analysis, deepening the Searsport channel will only produce the benefit of reduced shipping cost by reducing the time waiting for a tide for vessels with drafts over 35.2-ft and up to 40-ft.  According to the Corps’ Waterborne Commerce Statistics Center, only 82 ships meeting this criteria have used Mack Point from 2003 to 2012 – an average of only 8 vessels a year.  It is not worth spending $13+ million tax dollars to deepen this harbor so that 8 vessels a year don’t have to wait 12 hours for a high tide to berth at Mack Point.
  • State and Federal taxpayer funds should not be expended for the solely identified purpose of increasing the profits and convenience of 2 foreign oil companies, Sprague Energy and Irving Oil.  Taxpayers should not have to pay $13+ million dollars to deepen this harbor so that Sprague and Irving can save up to $845,000 a year.
  • The voters have never had an opportunity to consider and approve the “improvement” dredging that is now being proposed, since this proposal came out 5 months after the DOT put the innocuous request for “port improvement” funding on the November 2012 Transportation Bond.  A specific vote to authorize this project should be required.
  • There has been NO Congressional approval for the increase in the depth of this channel and the more than $10 million in federal funds required for this “improvement” dredging.  In the absence of such federal approval and federal appropriations, no State taxpayer funds should be expended by DOT in furtherance of this proposed “improvement” dredging or related port alterations.
  • No State funding exists for the additional dredging at the DOT pier that this ACOE Feasibility Study recommends and contemplates.
  • The NED benefit analysis needs to be redone, using post-2008 data and projections supported by EIA data.  The year 2006 should not be used as the foundation for any NED calculations for this project.
  • Only maintenance dredging should proceed at Mack Point, with the 37,100 cy of material that would generate disposed upland at a licensed facility.
  •   If 35-ft is deep enough for the Portland Harbor channel, why is 40-ft required for the channel to the port of Searsport, when Searsport has only about 1% of the total vessel landings annually that Portland has?  What prompted the DOT to ask congress to pursue dredging in Searsport and not Portland?

The Pen Bay Action Committee- Working to support small business and the communities of Penobscot Bay, Maine


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