Apr 11, 2013

Searsport dredge spoils would include "black organic silt" and "coal, slag and petroleum odor"

Penobscot Bay defenders should insist on secure upland landfilling of at least the top 25 feet of any dredge spoils taken up as part of the proposed 101 acre Searsport Harbor dredging project. Even if the Army Corps of Engineers doesn't agree.

Why? Because according to the Site Surface Conditions section of the Army Corps of Engineers review of the project, there are troubling wastes mixed into the upper layers of the harbor sediments. Things we don't want re-released into the bay ecosystem: (See page 132 of the Appendices pdf below)

1. The upper layer of Searsport Harbor sediments is a 2 to 5 feet thick layer of "very soft black organic silt"  with "a strong organic odor". In addition,  "..coal, slag and petroleum odor were encountered" in the proposed dredge area closest to the existing piers.

Certainly not what you'd want dumped onto the heads of juvenile lobsters! 

2. Below that black organic matter, the Corps found a layer of  brown silt that is also contaminated - though to a lesser degree, the report says. 

3. Then comes gray marine clay, up to twentyone feet thick, the upper part mixed with sand and gravel, with "lenses of rust colored sand."

Recommendation:  If dredging proceeds, the black organic matter and the brown silt must be dumped upland, along with the contents of the "lenses of rust colored sand" which could be old rusted out waste barrels from the 19th or 20th century

Get informed. Herer are the official documents: Feasibility Study  **  Appendices  **   Sediment Testing

Another part of the  Army Corps study of that black organic layer - and the brown silt layer beneath it - indicates  substantial  accumulation of  heavy metals and other toxic wastes in portions of the sites proposed for dredging.  More about that in a later post...

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