Apr 26, 2014

GAC Shore waste cleanup - Who the players are

It is going to take a welter of local state and federal agencies working together to eliminate the waste erosion at GAC Chemical's abandoned shorefront area harborward of the railroad track.  We'll start with a list of  state officials expect this state list to grow, as well as the municipal and federal lists of players .

MDEP staff with  GAC Chemical oversight responsibilities 

Karen Knuuti, Environmental Spec,
Bureau of Remediation and Waste Mgmt. Bangor
(207) 941-4561  karen.knuuti@maine.gov

Wilkes B Harper. Brownfields/VRAP Project Mgr
Bureau of Remediation & Waste Mgmt. Augusta
(207)  287-4856  office / (207)  592-1192  cell

Nick Hodgkins Oil & Haz Materials Specialist
Bureau of Remediation & Waste Mgmt, Augusta
(207) 287-4854 (desk) (207) 592-0882 (cell)

Susanne Miller, Director,
Maine DEP Bangor Office
Phone: (207) 941.4190 / Cell: (207) 557.2700

Apr 19, 2014

DMR scientist Carl Wilson on on lobsters and pesticides

Listen to Carl Wilson, Maine DMR lobster scientist give this presentation at the  4/18/14  meeting of the Maine Board of Pesticides Control. 

Broken into two  parts for ease of listening but also the full full 17 minutes

The Board has  committed to organizing pesticide sampling of intertidal areas of Penobscot Bay and Casco Bay.

Wilson had something to say about Maine lobsters and pesticides at the meeting Friday of the Maine Board of Pesticides Control. where a plan was agreed on to seek out and test pesticide hot spots in the intertidal shores of Penobscot Bay and Casco Bay, Click on the link to hear Dr Wilson and then his questioners 17minute 45second

Apr 17, 2014

Five Feet of Muck...

I was very disappointed to learn that nearly all of the members of the Bangor City Council did not ask the Army Corps to complete a full Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). I hope they'll reconsider.

 The folks down on the Midcoast deserve their own extra margin of safety in the form of a full EIS. There were lots of questions asked at the second dredge meeting. The Army Corps claimed their recent determination of “no dredge, not even maintenance” needed for the large DCP-LPG Tankers ( in 2012 ) had originated with a report done by the Coast Guard. We are left wondering if an
Environmental Assessment can perhaps be tailored to fit the political pressures prevailing. An EIS might be an instrument that is not so easily manipulated.

 A recent pronouncement that this project is “too small to warrant an EIS” is surely a cavalier and misleading assessment. The scale of this project is unprecedented in Penobscot Bay. Besides the immediate effects of the dredge, which could be substantial, the Corps needs to look deeper. An expanded and more industrialized port could have a variety of benefits and hazards, and all these futures must be examined.

 Sure, folks down in New York City or Boston wouldn't bat an eyebrow about a million cubic yards of dredge spoils, but we have things here that those large metropolitan areas have lost. Change is inevitable, but this change needs to be accomplished transparently and responsibly.

                                        Sincerely, Mrs. Sally Jones

Apr 15, 2014

Belfast Bay craters - bigger than you think! And more important.

From the Island Institute, important facts about the floor of upper Penobscot Bay.
Images courtesy NOAA.

Pen Bay pockmarks as big as the Rose Bowl

It turns out that Penobscot Bay hosts the largest known concentration of these pockmarks anywhere in the world   by Heather Deese and Susie Arnold

Image by NOAA vessel RUDE
The seafloor of Penobscot Bay has been in the news quite a bit lately due to controversy around a proposed dredging project in Searsport. A little-discussed aspect of the dredge proposal is that the Army Corp of Engineers is proposing to deposit the dredge spoils into an expansive cavern on the sea floor in western Penobscot Bay, called a "pockmark."

The existence of these giant pockmarks is not widely known outside the scientific and fishing communities—but has been the subject of study for three decades by our leading marine geologists in Maine. It turns out that Penobscot Bay hosts the largest known concentration of these pockmarks anywhere in the world, each one formed by the release of naturally-occurring methane gas.
The University of Maine's Dan Belknap and Joe Kelley started studying these features in 1984. On their first cruise, they partnered with a local lobsterman because fishermen have known about these depressions for decades. At the time they weren't on the charts, but fishermen observed that lobsters congregate in the depressions, and traps set in them came up carrying sticky blue clay.

The blue clay was the first clue indicating glacial sediments and methane.
"We have had incredible cooperation from fishermen over the years," Belknap said. "They have provided us with very good clues about what is actually going on. It would have taken us a lot longer to figure this out on our own."

Three decades later, after ship-based surveys with side-scan and multi-beam sonar, ROV (remotely-operated vehicle) surveys, and even manned submersible visits, Belknap and his colleagues now know a lot more about these formations. But they still have unanswered questions.

In a sonar image the pockmarks appear as a field of cone-shaped depressions crowded together in groups or strung out in chains "as if connected like a string of pearls," explained Belknap.

There are thousands of pockmarks in northwestern Penobscot Bay, but they also occur in smaller clumps or chains in muddy seafloor areas up and down the coast of Maine. A medium sized pockmark is about 60 feet wide and 20 feet deep. Many are smaller. A few are as large as the Rose Bowl.

Sonar and sediment core data pointed to naturally-formed methane gas as the force creating these pockmarks. The methane seems to have been formed by microbes acting on rich organic material that was deposited when these areas were wetlands at the end of the ice age, over 11,000 years ago. Over time, as the methane bubbles have escaped through the surrounding sediments and up through the water, the seafloor has slumped, forming the cone-shaped features.

While the pocks are ubiquitous in the bay, the total amount of methane is small, and capturing it commercially would not be economically feasible.

But questions about the pockmarks still persist: Do they form in rapid events or through slow outgassing? Are they still being formed? Are they stable?
There are anecdotal reports of fishermen seeing bubbles come to the surface—one lobsterman described it as looking like a submarine was surfacing—but this outgassing has not been observed or recorded during scientific surveys.

The most recent scientific evidence indicates the pockmarks are not likely actively forming, Belknap noted. Nonetheless, uncertainly persists about whether methane is being released and what the contribution could be to local ocean chemistry, including acidification.

What the scientists do know is that the pockmark walls contain what appear to be vents, and that these walls are not stable.

"I was in a submersible one time too close to the edge of a pockmark and we started an underwater landslide," Belknap recalled. "The captain of the submersible said ‘We are not doing that again!’”

While we do not know everything we would like to about these features, they serve as a reminder that the seafloor off our own coast can be a fascinating and ever-changing environment—not the silent deep many of us think of as sitting below the waves.

Dr. Heather Deese is an oceanographer and VP of Strategic Development at Island Institute. Dr. Susie Arnold is a marine ecologist and Marine Scientist at Island Institute.

Apr 13, 2014

Maine, the Feds and the Coastal Zone Management Act

There are many laws that must be considered as the Army Corps of Engineers and the State of Maine decide whether or not to approve the Searsport Harbor expansion dredge application.

Here is the list according to the Coastal Zone Management Act, which  requires the state and feds to be satisfied that the application meets the standards of all the below laws that apply.   (see CZMA Wikipedia entry)

o Natural Resources Protection Act (38 M.R.S. §§480-A to 480-S; and 480-U to 480-HH)
· Wetlands Protection rules (Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) rules ch.310)
· Coastal Sand Dune rules (DEP rules ch. 355)
· Permit by Rule standards (DEP rules ch. 305)
· Significant habitat rules (DEP rules ch. 335; Department of Inland Fisheries and
Wildlife (DIFW) rules ch. 10)
· Scenic Impact rules (DEP rules ch. 315)
o Site Location of Development Law (38 M.R.S. §§481 to 485-A; 486-A, -B; 487-A to 490; and 490-A to 490-TT)13
· Definitions of terms used in the site location of development law and regulations (DEP rules ch. 371)
· Policies and procedures (DEP rules ch. 372)
· Financial capacity standard (DEP rules ch. 373)
· No adverse environmental impact standard (DEP rules ch. 375)

Soil types standard (DEP rules ch. 376)
· Review of roads (DEP rules ch. 377)
· Variance criteria; performance standards (storage of petroleum products) (DEP rules
ch. 378)
· Planning permit (DEP rules ch. 380)
o MaineDOT Traffic Movement Permit Law (23 M.R.S. §704-A )
o Erosion Control and Sedimentation Law (38 M.R.S. §420-C)
o Wind Energy Act (35-A M.R.S. §§3451-3459)
· Scenic viewpoints of state or national significance on public reserved lands or
publicly accessible pedestrian trails (Department of Conservation rules ch. 3)
o Storm Water Management Law (38 M.R.S. §420-D)
· Storm Water Management rules (DEP rules ch. 500)
· Direct Watersheds of Water bodies Most at Risk from New Development, and
Sensitive or Threatened Regions or Watersheds (DEP rules ch. 502)
o Maine Waterway Development and Conservation Act (38 M.R.S. §§630 to 636-A; and 640)
o Protection and Improvement of Air Law (38 M.R.S. §§581 to 610-A, -B)14
· DEP rules chapters: 100 (regulatory definitions); 113 (growth offset regulations); 115
(major and minor source air emissions license regulations); 117 (source surveillance);
118 (gasoline vapor recovery); 134 (RACT for VOCs emitting facilities); and 138
(RACT for nitrous oxides emitting facilities)
o Protection and Improvement of Waters Act15 (38 M.R.S. §§361 to 367; 371-A to 372;
410-N; 411 to 424; 451 to 455; and 464 to 470)

Nutrient Management Act (7 M.R.S. §§4201-4214)
 Land Use Regulation Law (12 M.R.S. §§681 to 689)
· List of Coastal Islands in the Jurisdiction of the Maine Land Use Planning
· Land Use Regulation Commission (LURC) Rules and Regulations, ch. 10 - Land Use
Districts and Standards16
o Maine Hazardous Waste, Septage and Solid Waste Management Act (38 M.R.S.
§§1301 to 1310-BB; 1316 to 1316-L; and 1317 to 1319-W)
o Uncontrolled Hazardous Substance Sites Law (38 M.R.S. §§1362 and 1367)
o Asbestos Law (38 M.R.S. §§1273 and 1281)
o Lead Abatement Law (38 M.R.S. §§1296 and 1298(3))
o Sale of Consumer Products Affecting the Environmental Law (38 M.R.S. §§1608
and 1609-10)
o Mercury-Added Products and Services Law (38 M.R.S. §§1661-1661-C; 1665-A, -B;
and 1672)
o Solid Waste Management and Recycling Law (38 M.R.S. §§2133, sub-§2(A) and
o Priority Toxic Chemical Use Reduction Law (38 M.R.S. §§2321-2330)
o Wellhead Protection Law (38 M.R.S. §§1391-1399)

Wellhead Protection: Siting of Facilities that Pose a Significant Threat to Drinking
Water (DEP rules ch. 700)
Siting of Oil Storage Facilities (DEP rules ch. 692)
Rules and Regulations for Flammable and Combustible Liquids (Dept. of Public
Safety rules ch. 34)
o Nuclear Facility Decommissioning Laws (PL 1999 c. 739 and PL 1999 c. 741)
o Oil Discharge Prevention & Pollution Control Law (38 M.R.S. §§541 to 560)
o Oil Storage Facilities and Ground Water Protection Law (38 M.R.S. §§561; 562-A; 563, sub-§1(A) and 2; 563-A-B; 564; 565-A; 566-A; 568; 568-A-B; 569-A, -C; 570; and 570-A-G, I-M)
Rules for Underground Storage Facilities (DEP rules ch. 691)
o Maine Endangered Species Act (12 MRSA §§12801-12810 [inland species]; 12
M.R.S. §6971-6977 [marine species]; and 12 M.R.S. §10001, sub-§§19 and 62
· Endangered species (DIFW rules ch. 8)
o General licensing and enforcement authorities; fees (38 M.R.S. §§341-D; 344 to
349; and 352-353, and 353-A, -B[fees])17
o Maine Rivers Act (12 M.R.S. §§403 and 407)
o Marine Resources Law (12 M.R.S. §§6171 to 6192; and 6432-A)
o Subdivision Law (30-A M.R.S. §§4401 to 4408)
o Mandatory Shoreland Zoning Law (38 M.R.S. §§435 to 449)
· Guidelines for Municipal Shoreland Zoning Ordinances (DEP rules ch. 1000)

o Coastal Management Policies Act (38 M.R.S. §§1801 to 1802)
o Coastal Barrier Resources System Act (38 M.R.S. §§1901 to 1905)

Apr 12, 2014

Pilot of the Bay: Captain Gelinas on keeping Penobscot Bay safe & prosperous.

On April 9th  I interviewed David Gelinas of Penobscot Bay and River Pilots on the challenges of steering cargo ships and tankers in and out of Penobscot Bay. 

Listen to the 44 minute interview click here 44 minutes. We also discussed the proposed Searsport Harbor expansion from the maritime perspective, and more.

Apr 10, 2014

Searsport Hbr Dredge Meeting Belfast 4/8/14. AUDIO ONLINE

Complete audio recordings from April 8, 2014 Public Information & Water Quality Certification meeting, Hutchinson Ctr, Belfast, Maine.Army Corps of Engineers (ACOE) and state officials gave presentations and got grilled by the audience.  (36 speakers )

1. Introduction by Army Corps public relations mgr Larry Rosenberg 38 sec

2. Introduction by Patrick Arnold,  Maine Port Authority   3min 11sec 

3. Barbara Blumeris Army Corps, study mgr. introd by Rosenberg 18min 30sec

3a.Rosenberg observes (excerpt of above) that this is a meeting for DEP 22sec

4. ACOE Steve Wolf  DAMOS 35 min

.5 Rosenberg: This is a DEP mtg 4sec

6.  Mike Dassatt, DELA & reply by ACOE 8min 36 sec

ACoE's Blumeris lasering eelgrass map
7. Doug Hufnagel of Belfast discusses tides w/the Corps 7min25sec

8. Ann Crimaudo & Barbra Blumeris 2min40sec

9. State Rep Joe Brooks, Searsport 56 sec

10 Pemaquid Mussels, 1 min 49sec

11. Ridgely Fuller, Belfast

13. Will Neils, Appleton, 3min 44sec

14. David Laing, geologist from Stockton Springs & reply. 3min 46sec

15 Unidentified questioner and reply 3min 32sec

16. Julie Eaton, Lobster captain Deer Isle 1min 31sec

17 Dana Barry fisherman & QA he & Capt Eaton 1min 17sec

18. Unknown Belfast resident 50sec

19. Rob Iserbyt Rockport & QA 2min 30sec

20 Chloe Chunn  and QA 2min47sec

20. Suzy Dexter, Belfast Transition Group 2min 13sec

21.Suzy Dexter &  replies by Arnold & Blumeris 4min 19sec

22 Blumeris reply to Dexter on mercury 2min 9sec

22. Peter Wilkinson, Belfast 1min 52sec

23. Additional reply to Wilkinson 1min 31sec

24. Dave Miramont, Candidate for state senate 1min 28sec

25. B. Blumeris: why Army Corps is holding a DEP state meeting. 1min 3sec

26. Phyllis Coelho Belfast 2min

27. Kim Ervin Tucker 4min10sec

28. Reply to K. E. Tucker  1min 54sec

29. Kim Ervin Tucker & reply 6min3sec

30. Diane Messer 1min27sec

31. Two replies to D. Messer. 1min 28sec

32. Harlan Mclaughlin, FOPB & reply 5min 2sec.

33. "Let Ron speak!" pleas go unheeded. 5 seconds

34. David Tannhauser 2min

35.  Joel Woods, MLU. 44sec 

36. Faith Garrold to end of mtg 2min50sec

Apr 9, 2014

Searsport Mega-Dredge plan:the People lead. The Leaders...?

On April 8, 2014, Representatives of the Army Corps of Engineers and  severa state agencies met with fishermen and others of the concerned public at the Hutchinson Center in Belfast,to discuss the state of Maines controversial plan to greatly expand the dredged area of the Searsport Harbor Here are photographs from the event,   Media Coverage   BDN ...Belfast Republican Journal.....WCSH-TV.. ...WLBZ

ME Lob Unionist & Kim Tucker w/leaders of Downeast Lobster Association

Doubt. Distrust. Disbelief. Penobscot Bay fishermen, supporters blast dredge plan 

Federal and state officials  at the head table
Angus King's staffer Chris Rector was upset when I asked if King in DC is blocking the EIS 

Barbara Blumeris, ACOE, doing her job.

Blumeris reviewing eelgrass map

"14 years" ex MDOT Commissioner Cole tells WCSH is how long an EIS process can take.

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