Apr 15, 2010

U.S. EPA to Finalize Designation of Ocean Disposal Site Off Guam

Designation of site provides additional option for managing dredged sediments

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is seeking comments on the proposed designation of an ocean site for placing clean dredged material offshore of Guam.

Guam currently has no ocean disposal site, and all sediments from Port, Navy or other dredging projects must be disposed on land where capacity is limited. Designation of the Guam Deep Ocean Disposal Site provides an additional option for managing dredged sediments.

“Guam will have a complete toolbox for managing sediment from dredging projects,” said Nancy Woo, associate director of water programs for EPA’s Pacific Southwest region. “We expect dredgers to find beneficial ways to reuse sediment whenever they can, but that isn’t always possible. A properly designed ocean disposal site is a good option when rigorous environmental criteria are met.”

EPA’s final Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) presents a detailed evaluation of impacts and alternatives for designation of an ocean disposal site. The environmentally preferred location is approximately 11 nautical miles northwest of outer Apra Harbor, and in water depths ranging from 8,200 and 9,055 ft. There would be a maximum annual disposal limit of 1,000,000 cu yd of dredged material for the site.

The final EIS was revised after public comments were received on the draft EIS last October. With release of the proposed rule for site designation, EPA is now asking for additional public comments. The ocean disposal site would not be available until the rulemaking process is complete.

“It is important for people to understand that having an ocean disposal site available does not allow people to just start using it,” said Allan Ota, an oceanographer in EPA’s dredging team. “Sediments from each project must first pass strict testing standards, and even then they must show that there are no better uses for the sediment at that time.”