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Empire State against EPA to protect tourism on Long Island

Staff Writer |
New York State will take legal action against the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPS) to prevent the designation of new permanent open water disposal sites off the coast of eastern Long Island.

In a letter signed by more than 30 federal, state and local elected officials, Andrew M. Cuomo provided notice to President Barack Obama and EPA officials that the state will take necessary steps to prevent the EPA from issuing a rule allowing dredged materials from Connecticut to be dumped in the eastern region of the Long Island Sound.

The EPA has failed to show that there is need for an additional disposal site. At an event at Sunken Meadow State Park, the governor announced that the state objects to any further dumping in the eastern region of the Long Island Sound – a popular tourist and ecologically vital area.

This action builds on the state’s goal to eliminate disposal in the open waters of Long Island.

Governor Cuomo said. "The EPA’s plan to establish a new disposal site not only poses a major threat to this ecologically vital habitat, but impedes our progress in ending open water dumping in Long Island’s waters once and for all.

"This state is committed to ensuring the Sound remains a viable source of economic and tourist activity and we will continue to take any action necessary to preserve this precious jewel for generations to come."

In 2005, New York State called for, and EPA agreed to, establish a goal of reducing or eliminating dredged material disposal in the open waters of the Long Island Sound. The recent EPA decision to allow new dumping sites in eastern Long Island Sound contradicts this agreement.

There are currently two dredged material disposal sites in the Sound, where sediment has been dumped since the 1980s including Western Long Island Sound and Central Long Island Sound.

The EPA designated the Western and Central Long Island Sound as ocean disposal sites for long-term use. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has been using the Eastern sites for short term disposal and now EPA is proposing to make these sites long-term permanent sites.

The EPA claims that the Central and Western disposal sites do not have the capacity to accept additional dredged materials and has issued a proposed rule, making the short-term dumping sites in eastern Long Island Sound, which are scheduled to expire on December 23, 2016, permanent.

Last month, the New York Department of State and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation laid out the state’s concerns regarding the plan to establish a new disposal site.

A New York State review found that eastern Long Island sound disposal sites are not necessary because there is enough capacity at the Central and Western Long Island Sound sites to meet the needs of future dredged material disposal.

Permanent designation of a new dredging site will impede the state’s goal to reduce or eliminate open water disposal in the Long Island Sound.

Over the past six years, New York State has made significant investments to combat the threat to the waters around Long Island and restore its water quality.

State and local governments along the Sound in New York have spent nearly $2 billion to build or upgrade sewage treatment plants to restore water quality and protect drinking water from Long Island’s aquifers.

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