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12/17/14 8:25am
AMBROSE CLANCY PHOTO | The Town Board was asked at its Tuesday work session about emergency plans in the event of an accident at the Millstone nuclear power plant. From left, Councilman Paul Shepherd, Supervisor Jim Dougherty, Councilman Peter Reich and Councilman Ed Brown. Councilwoman Chris Lewis was present but not shown in the photo.

AMBROSE CLANCY PHOTO | The Town Board was asked at its Tuesday work session about emergency plans in the event of an accident at the Millstone nuclear power plant. From left, Councilman Paul Shepherd, Supervisor Jim Dougherty, Councilman Peter Reich and Councilman Ed Brown. Councilwoman Chris Lewis was present but not shown in the photo.

A resident asked the Town Board Tuesday if it was up to speed with notification plans in the event of a nuclear accident at the Millstone Power Station in Waterford, Connecticut.

Vincent Novak noted that in March 2011 the board said it would be looking into developing a plan with the police department since the Island lies within an “emergency planning zone” (EPZ). The United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission sets out a 50 mile radius for an EPZ around nuclear plants, which “are designed to avoid or reduce [dangers] from potential ingestion of radioactive materials” by contaminated food and water, according to the USNRC. (more…)

06/03/13 12:32pm
Suffolk Sheriff's new marine boat

COURTESY PHOTO | Marine 41 will be available to all East End marine units.

The Suffolk County Sheriff’s Office has purchased a custom-made, 41-foot emergency response ship equipped with high-tech features like side-scan sonar and forward-looking infrared cameras, allowing it to spy on bay and ocean bottoms and navigate through the night with the utmost confidence.

The vessel will be used by members of the East End Marine Task Force, established in 2007 to help coordinate marine units from across the East End. The task force includes sheriff’s deputies and U.S. Coast Guard officers. Marine law enforcement units from each of the five East End towns also signed a memorandum of agreement to share and standardize equipment and training.

The task force agreement allows participating personnel to cross town borders when needed, which “increases safety and keeps costs down,” said sheriff’s office’s marine unit commanding officer, Sgt. John Andrejack.

Sgt. Andrejack is tasked with overseeing and managing the new boat.

“I don’t know of any other vessels like this,” Sgt. Andrejack said.

The ship, Marine 41, is a C.B.R.N.E.-response vessel -— which stands for Chemical Biological Radiological Nuclear and Explosive — outfitted with radar, chart plotters and a dual-screen GPS. The boat is designed to be able to respond to a nuclear, chemical or biological attack or accident.

It’s powered by twin Cummins Diesel motors and does not have propellers. The boat is instead propelled by Hamilton Jets, which allow it to operate in very shallow water (less than three feet), officials said. The cabin air is always purified, with no outside air circulated inside. If the boat enters an area with hazardous smoke and fumes, there is constant clean air in the cabin, official said.

Marine 41 has firefighting capability with a water pump that can move 2,000 gallons a minute. It also comes with a 500-pound Davit winch to lift and recover things from the water.

“This is the most well-equipped response boat in the area,” said Sgt. Andrejack, who was involved in acquiring, designing and equipping the craft.

Officers on the task force from all different towns will crew the ship, he said.

“This vessel is crewed by multiple agencies, used for whatever town may need it for any large event,” Sgt. Andrejack explained, giveing the annual Maritime Festival in Greenport as one example. “It can be transferred from town to town when and where it is needed.”

The sheriff’s office was able to make the purchase using a $1.2 million Federal Emergency Management Agency Port Security Grant, officials said. The grant also allowed for the purchase of personal radiation protectors and 40 strong exposure suits that can be used to protect officers during severe storms or harsh winter weather, both to be distributed to members of the East End Marine Task Force.

The boat also came with a survival raft, EMT equipment and is able accommodate a patient on a backboard.

Marine 41 and all the on-board equipment cost $650,000.

A full-scale training exercise was recently performed on the boat. That simulation exercise, based on an actual recent event, involved a fishing vessel had dredged up hazardous material that the crew had to “decontaminate” before towing the vessel back to shore.

“A vessel of this capability was lacking in the region and the citizens of the East End deserve the capability and protection this asset provides,” Sgt. Andrejack said.

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01/13/13 10:00am

A dredge spoil disposal map showing current dumping sites.

Don’t dump dredge spoil in eastern Long Island Sound.

That was the message some speakers had for the federal Environmental Protection Agency Wednesday at a hearing on finding potential sites to replace two existing dredge disposal sites in eastern Long Island Sound.

Others argued that dredging is necessary to maintain a water-based economy.

The meeting, held at Suffolk County Community College’s culinary center in Riverhead, was billed as a “notice of intent to prepare a Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement to evaluate the potential designation of one or more ocean-dredged material disposal sites to serve the eastern Long Island Sound region.”

There are four such dredge dumping sites in Long Island Sound now, one dubbed the Western Suffolk site, south of Stamford, Conn.; one called Central Long Island Sound, south of New Haven; one called Cornfield Shoals, north of Greenport; and one called the New London site, just west of Fishers Island.

The Cornfield Shoals and New London sites are scheduled to be closed on Dec. 23, 2016, and the EPA is looking for new sites for dredge disposal, which was the subject of the hearing.

Most of what is disposed in these sites comes from Connecticut, according to the EPA. That’s because the dredge material from Long Island is mostly sand, and can be used for beach restoration, whereas most of the dredge material from Connecticut is fine-grained silt or clay and cannot be used for beach restoration.

The Farmingdale-based Citizens Campaign for the Environment doesn’t think any dredge spoil should be dumped in Long Island Sound, according to the non-profit group’s executive programs manager, Maureen Dolan Murphy.

That group opposed the designation of the two western Long Island Sound sites in 2004 and opposes designating new sites, as well.

“It did not make logical sense that after millions of dollars spent on restoring the Sound, we would designate it as a long-term dumping ground,” she said.

She said CCE agrees that dredging for navigation safety is necessary, but that open water disposal for dredge materials is not.

She said EPA and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in 2005 agreed to phase out open water dumping and to develop a “Dredged Material Management Plan” before deciding on its next step.

But that plan has never been developed, Ms. Murphy said.

“CCE believes it is risky and ill-advised to proceed with a long-term designation of an open-water disposal site before the final development of a DMMP,” she said. “Particularly since the goal and intent of the DMMP was to reduce open water disposal.”

Southold Town Councilman Al Krupski, who is running for Suffolk County Legislature in a special election being held Tuesday, echoed those sentiments.

“If Long Island Sound is a federally designated estuary, how do we propose to use it as a dump site for toxic spoil?” he said. “It just doesn’t’ make any sense.”

The Fishers Island Conservancy also objects to any further open water dumping sites in Long Island Sound, and feels EPA should look to areas outside of Long Island Sound and Block Island Sound for dump sites, according to Robert Evans of the FIC.

“We’ve been concerned for many years about the damage caused by the large-scale disposal at the New London site,” Mr. Evans said. “The Conservancy was party to the 1995 lawsuit that resulted in a 2002 settlement providing for the EPA’s formal designation process for dredged material disposal sites.”

He said the last large-scale dumping in the New London site was seven years ago, when about 400,000 cubic yards of dredge material was dumped there.

“The lobster population was greatly harmed and few believe the damage was coincidental,” Mr. Evans said, adding that the waters near the site have very strong currents and shallow depths.

“Dumping spoil in those waters is akin to throwing dirt into a fan,” Mr. Evans said.

Daniel Natchez, who owns a Mamaroneck-based environmental waterfront design company, took the opposite side of the argument, saying that people need to consider the economic impacts of not dredging.

“If you don’t dredge, the material that everyone is concerned about just sits there, and you swim in it, or have recreation in it,” he said, adding that people won’t have access to waterways.

“These are things that are going to have an adverse effect to quality of life,” he said.

And Bill Spicer, who owns Spicer’s Marina in Noack, CT, near Mystic, also feels that dredging is needed for the economy.

“Connecticut has billions of dollars at stake on the waterfront,” he said.

He suggested the dredge disposal sites be put in Connecticut waters, since Connecticut uses them more often.

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09/24/12 4:00pm

JENNIFER GUSTAVSON PHOTO | Congressman Tim Bishop during a press conference Monday in the Village of Old Field. Federal and state environmental officials announced that 35 municipalities and community groups in New York and Connecticut will receive grants totaling over $1.6 million

Congressman Tim Bishop and other federal and state officials announced Monday that 35 municipalities and community groups in New York and Connecticut will receive grants totaling over $1.6 million to help fund projects aimed at improving water quality within the Long Island Sound.

The grants are awarded annually through the Long Island Sound Futures Fund, a public-private grant program that currently pools funds from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service and Wells Fargo.

Officials said the 35 projects will open up water passages for fish, as well as restore 390 acres of fish and wildlife habitat along the waterfront. Fifteen grants totaling about $913,200 were awarded to groups in New York.

During a press conference in the Village of Old Field, officials announced that Cornell Cooperative Extension of Suffolk County, Peconic Green Growth, and the University of Connecticut were among the winners of the grant monies.

Mr. Bishop described partnerships between governmental entities and community groups as “critical” due to the current economic climate.

“The EPA and funding are under assault,” he said. “If we are going to proceed, as we must, we need to see to it that the environment we pass on is at least as good if not better than what we inherited. [To] protect the quality of life here on Long Island, both in our surface waters and our ground water, we’re going to need partnerships.”

Cornell Cooperative Extension received a $128,000 grant to help fund a nearly $330,000 project called “Engaging Vineyards to Implement Water Quality Improvement.” According to the proposal, Cornell Cooperative will develop a state-of-the-art pest and nutrient management pilot program aimed at improving water quality through reducing pesticide use at six wineries.

Becky Wiseman of Cornell said her group is in the process of finalizing a list of wineries that will participate in the program.

“We created this comprehensive idea for the vineyard industry, because it will dovetail nicely with other sustainability projects on Long Island,” she said.

In addition, Cornell Cooperative received a $95,000 grant to help pay for its “Marine Meadows Eelgrass Restoration Program.” The nearly $200,000 project includes organizing 400 volunteers to transplant eelgrass at different locations along the Sound.

The Peconic Green Growth, a not-for-profit organization focused on issues that integrate environment and community, received a $60,000 grant to help fund a nearly $150,000 decentralized wastewater treatment pilot project. The group has proposed that a solution to treating wastewater without the fear of high-density development is a “cluster” approach to sewering as opposed to a running a massive centralized system. The group is in the process of finding communities interested in taking part of a decentralized pilot program through Natural Systems Utilities, a New Jersey-based company that specializes in alternative wastewater systems.

The University of Connecticut received a $40,000 grant to help fund a more than $70,000 project to develop a management plan to remove invasive plants from seven acres at Great Gull Island, which is part of Southold Town, in order increase nesting habitat.

EPA officials said there is a review process associated with each project in order to monitor progress and success rates. Those reviews are expected to take place within the year.

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07/26/12 7:00pm

BETH YOUNG FILE PHOTO | An employee of Covanta Energy taking a lobster pot recovered from Mattituck Inlet last fall to be recycled. Longtime lobsterman Jimmy King said at the height of the boom, lobstermen were filling 1,000 to 1,200 traps a day, and many left their gear in the Sound.

Will next year’s looming ban on taking lobster from Long Island Sound help bolster local lobster numbers and revive the faltering fishery that was once worth $100 million to the local economy?

Nobody really knows, but some think it will certainly put the hurt on already suffering lobstermen, whose numbers have dwindled from several hundred down to about 50 over the past decade.

Adrienne Esposito of the Citizen’s Campaign for the Environment is one of the program’s critics.

“We have less lobstermen in the Sound than ever in the history of our state,” Ms. Esposito said. “Putting them out of business for three months in just plain cold.”

In February, the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission — a 15-state body that regulates the American lobster and other fisheries — approved an 11-week closure to take place in the fall of 2013. Commission spokeswoman Toni Kerns said the closure is part of a management plan intended to reduce lobster exploitation by 10 percent. She said she has not yet received official word from New York or Connecticut about specific dates the Sound will be closed to lobster fishing.

“They told us in February they’ll do a seasonal closure that will likely be in the fall and as far as I know, they’ll go to a closure,” Ms. Kerns said. She added, however, that “at any time a state can propose a conservation equivalency that will have the same effect” as closure of the fishery.

This means the states can decide at any time whether an outright a ban is the right way to reduce fishing efforts by 10 percent or whether to go another route.

It had yet to be determined this week what month next year closures would begin, Ms. Kerns said.

Southold Town Trustee and longtime lobsterman Jimmy King said he was unsure things would even play out as planned next year, at least not when it comes to the time the closure will take place.

“I don’t think they’re going to do a closure between September and December,” he said.

Mr. King said he’s been fishing the Sound for lobster for more than 50 years out of Mattituck Inlet, and that he and a nephew, Matt DeMaula, are the only ones left who still do. Most other lobstermen have switched over to conch, he said.

Mr. King believes a ban would be ineffective, in a “too little, too late” kind of way.

The commission should have been reining in catches before the die-off in the late ‘90s, he said.

“When the die-off occurred due to things like high water temperatures, pesticides and [harsh storms], the resource was already stressed from how much we were taking,” Mr. King said. “We raised the minimum size, they were talking about a complete moratorium and now they’re talking about a seasonal closure. We’re doing things now we should have done 20 years ago.”

He added that something that should be included with the seasonal ban is setting trap limits for those fishing the resource, as Maine does.

“Maine has strict trap limits while we went crazy out here,” he said. “There’s guys out here that were trapping 1,000, 1,200 traps a day and a lot of them just left their gear out there that we’ve had to use grant money to go out and collect. These guys just walked away and the taxpayers are now paying for someone to go out and get this gear back. It’s ridiculous.”

Ms. Esposito and Emerson Hasbrouck, marine director at the Cornell Cooperative Extension research group in Riverhead, agree that the diminished numbers of lobsters found in the Sound is not strictly the result of over-fishing, but rather the combination of higher water temperatures, pesticide run-off, salt water quality and unregulated fishing, which together caused an extreme die-off of the crustaceans in 1998 and 1999.

“Environmental and anthropogenic activities that don’t include fishing are suspects for that die-off,” Mr. Hasbrouck said. “The resource has not recovered from that.”

He said the results of a probable seasonal ban, part of a lobster management plan aimed to have a positive effect on the resource, are uncertain as of now.

“It’s possible it will work; we’ll have to see,” Mr. Hasbrouck said.

He’s also sure it will have a negative effect on already exasperated area fishermen.

“When the fishery was at its height in the mid- to late 1990’s, it was worth somewhere between 20 and 25 million dollars in landed value and up to $100 million to the economy,” Mr. Hasbrouck said. “That value is down to about $1 million. It’s been a significant drop-off and has had a similarly significant impact on people’s livelihoods, who have diversified their fishing in order to survive.”

Published reports put Long Island’s lobster catch peak at 8.8 million pounds in 1996 versus the roughly one million pounds caught in 1999.

Ms. Esposito said the coalition has been working hard with U.S. congressmen and senators to pass the Long Island Restoration Act, which seeks to secure funds to improve the welfare of local waters and bring back the prized crustacean.

“We’re asking for seven to 10 million dollars to implement restoration efforts,” she said. “That means restoring wetlands and sea grass populations, as well as reducing the amount of nitrogen going into the water. We have to look at the Sound holistically and restore the health of the water body.

“That will bring back the lobster. This is the fault of plastics and pesticides, not the lobstermen,” she said.

To Mr. King, the seasonal lobster ban won’t have much effect on North Fork lobstermen because, well, there just aren’t many left. “Most everyone,” he said, has already stopped fishing for lobster.

“I just brought in the last of my gear because there’s so little to catch. It can’t even pay for my fuel,” he said. “Lately it’s been near to nothing, 30 or 40 pounds a day.”

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