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NY, CT Spar Over Dumping In Long Island Sound

A New York beach overlooking Long Island Sound. Photo Credit: Jon Craig
Attorney General William Tong is defending Connecticut from a New York lawsuit seeking to block dredging along the eastern end of Long Island Sound. Photo Credit: CBS 60 Minutes

Connecticut and New York disagree about whether Long Island Sound should be a toxic dumping ground.

A federal court battle over Connecticut’s dumping of sediment in the eastern portion of Long Island Sound is expected to heat up this summer.

Connecticut defends dredging as a method of keeping harbors and navigation routes open. it argues that its new underwater dump site helps the economy. It also protects survival of the submarine base in New London and a submarine construction business at Electric Boat's shipyard.

Connecticut argues that dumping dredged material in the eastern sound is environmentally safe. New York thinks the dumping site will be harmful to tourism and the region's ecology.

Three years ago, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Army Corps of Engineers proposed opening a 1.5-square-mile dump site between the Thames River and Fishers Island. Two other disposal sites, in the western and central sound, were due to close in December 2016. To New York's surprise, the EPA decided to keep all three sites open for 30 more years.

New York did not object to keeping existing dump sites open, but sued in U.S. District Court to block disposal of sediment in the newest, eastern Long Island site. New York thinks there is plenty of room at the two original sites to dispose dredged material. 

A federal judge has given both states deadlines to file closing arguments this summer.

Connecticut Attorney General William Tong, who is defending his state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP), said New York's lawsuit is without merit. Tong also argues that the Eastern sound disposal site is needed for security reasons because the ability to launch and build submarines in Groton, CT, would be eliminated without expanded dredging. 

In a recent court filing, Connecticut countered: “There simply is not sufficient available disposal volume in the central and western sites to accommodate the needs from the eastern Long Island Sound.”

Connecticut’s maritime industry contributes more than $9 billion to the state’s economy and employs more than 40,000 people, according to the Connecticut Port Authority.

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