Rhode Island Long-Term Dredged Material Disposal Site

Maintenance of adequate navigation depth in the states’ marine terminals, port facilities, and private marinas is vital to the economies of Rhode Island and southeast Massachusetts (referred to as the Rhode Island Region). Commercial shipping and recreational boating industries throughout the Rhode Island Region rely on the continued viability of these facilities. To ensure continued use, economic viability, and safety of the region’s navigation channels and navigation dependant facilities, periodic dredging must be performed to remove accumulated sediment. Maintenance dredging in the RIR has become both difficult and costly due to the absence of a designated long-term ocean disposal site in the region. In an effort to ease the burden, the Governor of Rhode Island requested (September 21, 2000) (Appendix B) that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), in cooperation with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps), consider the designation of a long-term dredged material disposal site in Rhode Island Sound (pursuant with the Marine Protection, Research, and Sanctuaries Act (MPRSA), 33 U.S.C. §§ 1401 et seq.). In response to this request, EPA Region 1 and the Corps New England District initiated an evaluation to determine if there was a need to designate one or more long-term ocean dredged material disposal sites as part of the Rhode Island Region Long-Term Dredged Material Disposal Site Evaluation Project in waters offshore of Rhode Island or offshore of southeastern Massachusetts, referred to herein as the Rhode Island Region (RIR) (Figure ES-1). This evaluation was conducted pursuant to the Marine Protection, Research, and Sanctuaries Act (MPRSA), 33 U.S.C. Section 1401 et seq. In the letter requesting EPA and the Corps’ consideration of designating a long-term disposal site, the Governor cited difficulties that navigational facilities were experiencing due to a backlog of maintenance dredging activities. This backlog stemmed from a lack of environmentally acceptable and cost-effective disposal options available to the navigation community.

Through a site screening process that considered the 5 general and 11 specific criteria in the MPRSA as well as evaluation factors specific to the RIR, EPA identified two potential alternative open-water dredged material disposal sites that warranted a more detailed evaluation.If designated, one or more of these sites could be used for disposal of dredged material found suitable for open-water disposal from navigation projects and other sources from Rhode Island and southeastern Massachusetts. EPA’s designation of an ocean disposal site does not authorize or result in the disposal of any particular material at the site. Designation only makes a site available for disposal, and disposal at a designated site is only one of a number of disposal options that are evaluated for proposed dredging projects.

- Updated: 29 January 2015

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