Jun 16, 2014

Islesboro Island Trust unveils alternative dredge plan. Plus Media reaction to Report

PENOBSCOT BAY. Plans for expansion dredging of Searsport Harbor came under fresh fire today, as a bay area land trust and other opponents of the project renewed their call for the US Army Corps of Engineers and Maine Department of Transportation to perform an Environmental Impact Study on the controversial project before further action is taken. See media coverage at end of release

Islesboro Island Trust today released a report by prominent consulting firm Dawson and Associates that notes that the agencies have not considered 


less damaging alternatives, nor considered the impact to bay fisheries of the release of large quantitities of methylmercury into Penobscot Bay water column.

The Dawson & Associates Report  APPRAISAL OF SEARSPORT DEEPENING PROJECT (pdf) suggests maintenance dredging the entry to Searsport Harbor only to mintenance standard to 35 feet rather than 45, and instead  deepening the layover berths next to the piers to 45 feet. The report says


97% of projected shipping benefits identified by the Corps in their proposal would be achieved using this alternative, the report says, "but would require substantially less dredging than the Corps’ proposal."

Ron Huber, executive director of Friends of Penobscot Bay lauded the report.
"Our state and federal governments need to take the concerns of Penobscot Bay area citizens seriously." Huber said. "This project could radically change the lives of people who fish Penobscot Bay. And those who beachcomb, swim and sail it. "

FOPB's concerns are the same as other dredge critics: the mega-dredge could bring mercury, then methylmercury resuspension, reduce primary production by bay seaweeds and microalgae by turning the water nearly opaque for up to a year, & could stimulate increased coastal industrial growth in the upper Penobscot Bay estuary.

"With the river dams coming down, this estuary needs more protection, not less" he said. "As more and more seafood species come up Penobscot Bay and down Penobscot River, this estuary, as the transition crossroad for them, must be kept ecologically sound."

For more information about the Dawson  & Associates report contact Steve Miller, Islesboro Island Trust 207-734-6907 iitsmill@gmail.com

MEDIA COVERAGE

 Group Unveils Possible Alternative to Searsport Dredge plan. WLBZ

Possible alternative to Searsport dredge plan advanced. WCSH 6

Group advances alternative Searsport Dredging Plan MPBN

Land Trust Promotes Alternative to Searsport Harbor Dredging Bangor Daily News

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