12/13/16 6:00am

Long Island Sound Greenport

Less than a week after Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced the state is preparing to sue the Environmental Protection Agency, local officials and environmentalists have extended their support to the state, which is challenging the federal agency’s decision to permanently allow dumping of dredged material in Long Island Sound.

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12/07/16 12:00pm
12/07/2016 12:00 PM

Long Island Sound Greenport

New York State is preparing to sue the Environmental Protection Agency over its decision to permanently allow dumping of dredged material in the Long Island Sound, according to a press release from Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s office.

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08/06/16 2:00pm
08/06/2016 2:00 PM

Cuomo_EPA

Gov. Andrew Cuomo, backed by about 30 elected officials, announced on Thursday the state may take legal action against the Environmental Protection Agency to stop a plan to allow dumping in Long Island Sound of materials dug up from dredging. READ

04/28/16 12:00pm
04/28/2016 12:00 PM

Long Island Sound Greenport

That the Environmental Protection Agency appears ready to allow dumping of materials dug up from dredging in Long Island Sound didn’t come as a surprise to environmentalist Adrienne Esposito. READ

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08/12/15 6:00am
08/12/2015 6:00 AM

Dredge-spoil-map-Long-Island-Sound

Suffolk County Legislator Al Krupski state and town officials and environmental advocates are calling for an end to the dumping of potentially toxic materials from dredging operations into Long Island Sound. READ

05/29/14 8:00pm
05/29/2014 8:00 PM
Kimogener Point on the Bay off New Suffolk Avenue. (Credit: Barbaraellen Koch, file)

Kimogener Point on the Bay off New Suffolk Avenue. (Credit: Barbaraellen Koch, file)

New construction and any big renovation projects on Long Island would need to incorporate modern waste treatment systems to better filter nitrogen and keep it from reaching ground and surface waters.

Registered pesticides that appear in groundwater in “multiple clusters” would be “prohibit[ed] for use.”

And, starting in 2017, no one would be allowed to repair cesspools in certain “priority areas” of Nassau or Suffolk counties. Those people would instead have to install denitrification systems.  (more…)

12/10/13 1:19pm
12/10/2013 1:19 PM
CARRIE MILLER PHOTO | Newly-purchased fire hydrants may have to be sold for scrap if new federal regulations aren't changed or put on delay.

CARRIE MILLER PHOTO | Newly-purchased fire hydrants may have to be sold for scrap if new federal regulations aren’t changed or put on delay.

Stockpiles of fire hydrants previously purchased by local water districts could soon be useless following the enactment of new federal standards for lead used in infrastructure providing drinking water.

Effective Jan. 4., the maximum amount of lead allowed for use in pipes distributing drinking water will change from 8 percent to .25 percent – a new standard decided upon by the Environmental Protection Agency.

The new standard is a result of the Reduction of Lead in Drinking Water Act passed in Jan. 2011, aimed at reducing the amount of lead in drinking water pipes and other plumbing fixtures to protect public health.

Although the act was passed nearly three years ago, the EPA only recently indicated fire hydrants would have to meet the new standard – because they can be used to provide drinking water in emergency situations – according to a release from Sen. Charles Schumer’s office.

Any hydrant installed on or after Jan. 4. would need to meet the new EPA standard, according to the guidelines.

“As soon as [the law] was passed we changed our policy to immediately order fittings that didn’t contain lead so three years from then we’d be ready – nobody had any idea they were going to include fire hydrants,” said Suffolk County Water Authority commissioner James Gaughran. “Fire hydrants are used for fire safety purposes.”

He said had the agency known three years ago, they would have prepared to comply. They agency was notified Oct. 22., when a summary of the law’s guidelines was released by the EPA, he said.

The SCWA services about 1.2 million people annually through over 37,000 hydrants, and services most of Southold Town.

The agency’s existing stock of hydrants yet to be used numbers about 400 – valued at about $1,000 apiece  – that, combined with associated fittings, totals about $450,000 of what could be unusable equipment, Mr. Gaughran said. If no exemptions are made, or delay is granted by the EPA, the existing stockpile would be sold at scrap value, he said.

“We’re certainly concerned about lead contamination getting to the drinking water, but it takes a long time,” Mr. Gaughran said. “Give the industry time to develop and manufacture the new hydrants, so that there is competition – so we don’t get rate shocked,” he said. “Who knows, they could double or triple in price.”

At a press conference Monday, Mr. Schumer called on the EPA to exempt existing stocks of fire hydrants purchased before the EPA released the guidelines in October, which he says will save water districts thousands of dollars.

On Dec. 2, the House of Representatives unanimously passed legislation that would add fire hydrants to the list of devices exempt from the new lead standards – which includes toilets and shower parts.  Action from the Senate and Presidential approval would still be needed to fix the problem for local water districts.

Mr. Gaughran, who called the problem “just another example of government bureaucracy out of control,” said the agency replaces about 200 of its about 3,700 hydrants each year – many of which become damaged in winter storms and car accidents, he said.

While lead is rarely found in source water, it can enter tap water through the corrosion of plumbing materials, according to the EPA.

Exposure to lead can affect nearly every system in the body, and exposure above levels of 15 parts per billion can cause in delays in physical and mental development in babies and children, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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06/26/13 10:00am
06/26/2013 10:00 AM

CYNDI MURRAY PHOTO | EPA environmental scientist Bernward Hay listens to the concerns of audience members Tuesday.

Local government officials blasted members of the Environmental Protection Agency Tuesday for failing to properly notify them about a public meeting regarding the agency’s intentions to designate dredged spoil dumping sites in the eastern Long Island Sound.

The meeting, held at Suffolk Community College’s culinary center in Riverhead, outlined the EPA’s plans to conduct a supplemental environmental impact study evaluating potential dumping sites in the eastern portion of the Sound.

Four dredging sites currently exist in the Sound. Cornfield Shoals is the closest to the North Fork, located north of Greenport. The New London site is just west of Fishers Island. The other two sites are the western Suffolk site, south of Stamford, Conn. and the central Sound site, south of New Haven.

For the past 30 years dredged material from the eastern Long Island Sound has been disposed of primarily at the New London and Cornfield Shoals sites. Both are scheduled to close in 2016, prompting the EPA to seek out new dredge spoil disposal locations.

Alternative areas being considered are located off of Southold and Greenport.

“One of the things you said is if you want to get the public involved in this process, well, you first have to invited the public,” said Southold Town Supervisor Scott Russell, who told EPA members he was first notified of the meeting just 24 hours earlier.

Furthermore, Mr. Russell said he has not received answers to questions previously submitted to the agency on the issue.

“As supervisor of Southold Town I certainly should be involved in this process,” he said. “You need to make sure we are at the table for this discussion.”

Approximately 20 people attended the meeting, many echoing Mr. Russell’s statement about the short notice.

During the hour-long presentation representatives from EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers, who helps designate and monitor the sites, outlined the process of choosing a new dumping area.

“This is a work in progress we are narrowing down locations that could work as a potential site,” said Bernward Hay, an EPA environmental scientist. Mr. Hay noted the environmental impact statement would not guarantee the approval of any proposed dumping site.

The new impact study will build on an evaluation conducted in 2005 when the agency established dumping sites in the western and central portion of the Sound, according to the presentation.

The study would analyze sediment, geographical position, depth of water, distance from the coastline and the history of dumping in the proposed areas, Mr. Hay said. The study would also take into account impacts on shellfish beds, fishing areas, shipping lanes and recreation areas.

But local lawmakers expressed frustration over the presentation.

“Suffolk County has an agriculture leasing program that’s not mentioned at all,” Suffolk County Legislator Al Krupski (D-Cutchogue) said.

Citizens agreed the proposal wasn’t comprehensive.

While the dredge material from Long Island is mostly sand that can be used for beach restoration, Connecticut dredge spoil is fine-grain silt or clay that’s not suitable for beach repairs. Because of that most of what is deposited in these sites comes from Connecticut, according to the EPA.

“Anything that comes from Connecticut ends up on Long Island’s beaches,” Mattituck resident Ron McGreevy said. “I think you need to collect more information from the Long Island side of the Sound.”

The Farmingdale-based nonprofit Citizens Campaign for the Environment doesn’t believe any dredge spoil should be dumped in the Sound, according to its executive programs manager, Maureen Dolan Murphy.

The EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers agreed in 2005 to phase out open water dumping and to develop a dredged material management plan before deciding to move forward with this step, however that plan was never developed, Ms. Murphy said.

Elected officials also questioned the continued use of underwater dumping sites.

“It’s well documented that there is a high incidence of shell disease in crabs and lobster in the waters around these dump sites,” said James King, Southold Town Trustee and commercial lobster fisherman. “I think the bottom line here is that water disposal is the cheapest, easiest way to get rid of dredge spoil. There is a lot of game playing.”

The EPA said it would continue to assess the proposed sites in more detail and include more data.

Additional public meetings on the issue will be held in the winter.

A dredge spoil disposal map showing current dumping sites.