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Dredging of Searsport Harbor would be economic folly by Rock Alley, President of Maine Lobstering Union 9/14/2014

Proposed Dredging of Searsport Harbor Threatens Maine Lobster Industry by Sarah Lozanova Sept. 2014

Mack Point Pollution  Fisherman’s Voice May 2000

Listen to Special WERU News Report   Call In Show  with  Joel Pitcher of the Maine Lobstering Union and Attorney Kim Tucker 8/25/2014

Listen to WERU News Report with Amy Browne:      3/11/14

Summary: The members of Maine Lobstering Union – Local 207  voted unanimously to oppose the expansion dredging of Searsport Harbor.    There has been a great deal of controversy—and even contradictory information—about plans to make the channel there 5 feet deeper.   Supporters say the depth needs to be expanded to 40 feet to accommodate larger ships and increase shipping traffic.  Opponents have pointed out that Portland harbor is the same depth as Searsport currently, and does a great deal of business, and that there is already a deep water port in Eastport.
Most of the opponents of expansion dredging have voiced support of routine maintenance dredging, but there is concern levels.

Fishermens Forum 2014. Searsport dredge issue taken up by Maine Legislators & DMR Commissioner.  AUDIO, Mar 2, 2014

Mercury contamination in Penobscot River lobsters was known for 8 years:  But consumers didn’t learn about the ‘hazardous’ levels until a state agency closed the fishing area.
By Scott Dolan and Tom Bell ,  PPH

Prestigious Washington DC Consulting Team to Advise Islesboro Islands Trust on Searsport Dredging

Islesboro Islands Trust (IIT) announced today that they retained the services of the highly respected consulting firm of Dawson and Associates to help make the case for more comprehensive research into the economic and environmental impacts of the proposed Searsport Harbor dredging. Concerned that nearly one million cubic yards of contaminated sediment might be dredged from Searsport Harbor and Mack Point and then deposited in the lobster-rich waters of Penobscot Bay without a full Environmental Impact Statement, Dawson and Associates will help Islesboro Islands Trust articulate and convey these concerns to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (ACoE).

Dawson & Associates is the nation’s premier firm for resolving complex challenges involving federal water resources and environmental regulatory policy and procedures. Dawson and Associates’ have decades of successful association with the ACoE, the EPA, the Department of the Interior and the United States Congress.

The Dawson team includes a number of former military officers, attorneys and academic leaders. Dawson will evaluate the proposal’s economic impacts and advise IIT on technical and policy issues.

According to the Environmental Assessment prepared last spring for this proposal, “Normally, the USACE prepares an Environmental Impact Statement (pursuant to 33 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) 230.6) for Federal actions that require a Feasibility Report for authorization and construction of major projects.” Economic and environmental questions that the proposed dredging raises but does not adequately answer require an Environmental Impact Statement.

To date, ten Penobscot Bay towns, Zones C and D Lobster Councils, 32 state legislators and hundreds of individuals and organizations have asked the ACoE for an EIS, None of the municipalities or legislators asking for an EIS opposes maintenance dredging. Maintenance dredging would require removal of only seven percent of the proposed total, according to USACE data. The expanded dredging, on the other hand, would enlarge the entry area by a third to include marine bottom never before dredged and increase depth of the entry from 35 feet to 40 feet. The port of Portland is dredged to 35 feet.

For more information, email or call: Steve Miller, Executive Director, Islesboro Islands Trust, 207-734-6907, iitsmill@gmail.com.

Midcoast residents challenge federal,  state officials on Searsport dredging proposal

By Ethan Andrews      February 26, 2014

Army Corps addresses questions, concerns from local fishermen on dredging proposal
By Dan West | Feb 25, 2014

Harlan McLaughlin of Searsport speaking at the Feb. 24 Army Corps meeting in Bangor.

More than 30 speakers addressed representatives from the Army Corps of Engineers about its planned improvement dredging of Searsport Harbor, many expressing concern for the lobster fishery. The Army Corps held a public meeting in Bangor Feb. 24 to present the work it has done on a feasibility study that proposes expanding the channel into Searsport Harbor and deepen it from 35- to 40-feet at low tide. Several attendees commented that the meeting would have been more convenient for interested parties had it been held in Searsport, where the dredging is proposed, rather than Bangor. The meeting was required by the Maine Department of Environmental Protection before the Army Corps can file an application for a Water Quality Certification for the dredging project. Two members of the team that worked on the feasibility study have presentations to the more than 150 members of the public who attended the meeting detailing the scope of the project and the findings of the study. Steven Wolf, the program manager for the Corps New England District dredged material disposal monitoring system, gave an overview of how dredging technology has improved to better dump material at sea. Wolf said the material tested in Searsport was clean and suitable for ocean dispersal. Three sites have been looked at as possible disposal sites — Belfast, Rockland and Islesboro. The Islesboro site, called the Penobscot Bay site, has been identified as the best option. The Rockland site is too far, increasing the project cost, while the Belfast site is too shallow for the amount of material that is proposed to be dumped. Wolf said the site, off the Northwest side of Islesboro, was the best option as it was deep enough and has a pockmarked seafloor, which would help to limit the spread of the dredge spoils from the site. Lobstermen from around the state attended the meeting and raised concerns about the potential impacts the dredging project has on the lobster fishery. Some raised concerns about increased silt during storms, contamination of the dredge spoils and impact on other species of fish. Maine Lobstermen Union President Rocky Alley attended the meeting, but did not speak during the public comment portion. Alley told the Journal that he was attending the meeting to learn more about the project and would bring the information back to the Union members. “This is pretty bad though, parts of it,” Alley said. “It could have a big effect on the lobster industry.” Bud Hall, owner of Angler’s Restaurant in Searsport, said he was concerned that the dredging could impact restaurants in the area. Hall referenced a recent decision by the Maine Department of Marine Resources to close an area to lobstering in Stockton Spring, just to the north of the proposed dredging site, due to mercury contamination. Ron Huber of Friends of Penobscot Bay told the Army Corps he had “trust issues” with the state and federal authorities proposing this project. Huber referenced the building of the causway to Sears Island, and the attempt to develop Sears Island in the 1980s and 1990s as examples of the state acting in an untrustworthy manner. Chair of the Islesboro Select Board Arch Gillies, along with several other speakers called for a full Environmental Impact Statement, a more in depth study than the Environmental Assessment already completed. Ten communities from around Penobscot Bay have joined with Islesboro to officially request such a study be completed. Several speakers, including representatives from the Penbay Pilots Association and area business groups, spoke in favor of the dredging. Those speakers cited safety concerns for larger ships using the harbor. Larger double-hulled ships require more depth to enter a harbor and currently cannot make it into Searsport at low tide. Others, like John Porter, president of the Bangor Region Chamber of Commerce, said a deepened Searsport Harbor could give Maine industries a better option for exporting their products. “We’re jazzed about this port becoming the taking-off point for a resurgent forest products industry,” Porter said. “We can’t survive as a region doing each other’s laundry; we need value-added jobs.” However, other members of the public question how worthwhile the improvement dredging is considering the current amount of traffic the harbor sees, and the fact that Portland Harbor is the same depth at low tide as Searsport is now. Harlan McLaughlin, of Searsport, said he did not see the need for the improvement dredging. “This improvement project is for ships not coming here now and aren’t coming in the future,” McLaughlin said. “This is all about funding make-work projects. You’re saying, ‘let’s do it and hope people show up.'” If the project does go forward it would deepen the existing entrance channel and turning basin from a depth of -35 feet to -40 feet at mean low water. In addition, the entrance channel, currently 500 feet wide at its narrowest point, would be widened to 650 feet, and a maneuvering area adjacent to State Pier’s east berth in Long Cove would be created. Dredged material would be disposed at the identified disposal site in Penobscot Bay. With the proposed project, deep draft vessels would be able to access the port more efficiently, and transportation costs for goods arriving at the port would be reduced. The public meeting is the first step in a lengthy process, which will eventually need an act of congress to fund the project and to move forward. The public will continue to have the option to make public comments as the Army Corps moves through the process, which will next involve apply for a Water Quality Certification from the Maine DEP. Effort to relocate lobsters from Portland Harbor to encroach on scallop fishing area  BDN Hundreds turn out to voice thoughts on dredging Searsport harbor  WCSH 6 Searsport Dredging Taken to Public  WABI TV5 Maine Voices: In deciding fate of Sears Island, remember what makes it special: Development proposals cannot remain oblivious to economic and environmental consequences.   by Stephen Miller Debate over Searsport harbor project set to come to head  News Center 2 Lobster Fishing/ Crab Fishing Grounds Closed in Stockton Springs State Legislators Call for EIS, read here: Kumiega Dredging Letter Opponents of Searsport harbor dredging project will have chance to speak at informational meeting in Bangor Shipping growth must weigh impact on PenBay towns: Dredging Searsport Harbor poses risks   Working Waterfront Searsport harbor dredging long overdue, vital to Maine trade, transportation commissioner tells economic development group Lawmakers Request Study of Penobscot Bay Dredging Proposal ‘Big Diggah’ dredge plan for Searsport could elevate mercury in Penobscot Bay lobsters to warning label levels *Note-this chamber lives about a 90 minute drive (a county away)  from the proposed dredging dump site. Bangor Chamber Advocates Dredging in Searsport: Dear Chamber colleagues, I want to alert you to an opportunity to have a real and positive impact on the future economic health of our region. One of our most vital transportation links is the rail and road connection we have with the port of Searsport. This port is our jumping off point to world markets, and its health and functionality will determine whether we, as a region, will be able to compete globally and create new, 21st Century jobs that will support our local economy. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will hold a public information meeting on Monday, Feb. 24, from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the Cross Insurance Center in Bangor to discuss a proposed dredging project for this port. The project has been reviewed extensively in terms of any environmental impact, and it is vital to the future of the port. A somewhat deeper channel and wider shipping lane are needed to accommodate modern ships. Just as important, the port’s shipping channel is overdue for a maintenance dredge, as current operations are being hampered by accumulated silt in the channel. A small but vocal group of opponents who have consistently opposed efforts to fully utilize the port continues to voice concern and opposition to the dredging project. It is critical that the Army Corps hears from business leaders who appreciate the importance of this asset to our region. Please take the time to come out to the Cross Center on Monday evening. Even if you choose not to speak, your presence in support of this project will make a difference. And please consider, as well, lending your name to the letter of support, shown below. You can click here to do so. John Porter President & CEO Bangor Region Chamber of Commerce 20 South St. Bangor, ME 04401 www.bangorregion.com

Mack Point Pollution by Paul Molyneaux   Fisherman’s Voice,  May 2000

NYT OUTDOORS; Maine Lobstermen Protest Dumping of Dredge         By Paul Molyneaux Published: August 6, 2000                                  

 New York and Connecticut lobstermen are not alone in fearing that their precious resource is being threatened by man-made contaminants. Maine, the nation’s largest lobster source, has not suffered the alarming die-off that decimated the Long Island Sound lobster fishery this spring, but Maine fishermen, environmentalists and town officials have seen enough red flags to voice their concerns.
In April, Maine’s Department of Transportation announced plans to dump dredge spoils contaminated with lead, mercury, PCB’s and petroleum derivatives, into the prime lobster grounds of Penobscot Bay. The proposed disposal site, five miles from Vinalhaven, Me., an island about 50 miles northeast of Portland, lies within an area where 19 million pounds of lobster were caught last year — nearly 40 percent of the state landings. When Penobscot Bay lobstermen and community leaders heard about the dumping proposal, they came out in force to protest. ”I’m not a scientist,” said Vinalhaven’s town manager, Sue Lessard, looking at the Transportation Department’s plan. ”But I’m intelligent enough to know this is not a good idea.”

july-26-2000-article

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