Lawmakers Request Study of Penobscot Bay Dredging Proposal

Caitlin Burchill

Updated 11 months ago

Some Maine lawmakers think a plan to dredge part of Penobscot Bay is fishy.

They want a comprehensive environmental study of the proposal.

They met with environmentalists and the public in Belfast Wednesday.

Sally Jones came from Bangor, bringing along a hand crafted salmon to emphasize her beliefs.

“I’m concerned that we’re spending millions of dollars cleaning up the river, but we’re not paying enough attention to the bay. We need to be mindful of all the creatures that share Penobscot Bay with us. Salmon is just one example,” said the concerned citizen.

Three lawmakers have similar sentiments about the US Army Corps of Engineers plan to dredge part of Penobscot Bay. That’s why they’ve joined forces with environmentalists and wrote a letter seeking a comprehensive environmental study.

“My day time job is actually a marine biologist at the Darling Marine Center where I run a experimental hatchery. And I’m very concerned about a few things. First of all the dredging itself is going to release compounds and toxins that are in the sediments that have resulted from runoff and oil spills over the years. No one has made any determination on the impact those could potential have,” said Rep. Mick Devin (D-Newcastle).

Many I spoke to say the US Army Corps hasn’t given them any answers.

“Nope they’ve given no reasons. It’s 1 million cubic yards, 37,000 (cubic yards) only of that is for maintenance which is what everybody thinks is important to do. You maintain your car, you maintain your harbor, but this additional 900,000 plus (cubic yards) is from unspecified purpose. The only thing we can assume is that they want to expand the port, but for what purposes?,” said Chair of Islesboro Board of Selectmen Arch Gillies.

“What’s the cost? What’s the cost of the local economy? If it impacts lobster populations, that’s the biggest industry in most of the communities I represent,” said Rep. Walter Kumiega (D-Deer Isle).

TV5′s Caitlin Burchill spoke with a representative from the the US Army Corps of Engineers who says while they are a federal agency, this plan wouldn’t exist unless Maine’s Department of Transportation saw a need for it.

He said the Corps is looking at every comment they receive and making an analysis of all the data they collect.

He says they will fill in any missing gaps before moving forward, which may mean the need for more environmental studies.

For more information, the Corps said to visit this website: http://www.nae.usace.army.mil/Missions/ProjectsTopics/Searsport.aspx

He told Burchill that any feedback they get will be taken into consideration.


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