OC Coastkeeper Disappointed in Coastal Commission’s Approval of Newport Dredging Project

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On Friday, Oct. 14, the California Coastal Commission approved a Coastal Development Permit for a controversial dredging project impacting Newport Harbor.

According to Orange County Coastkeeper, an environmental nonprofit committed to clean water, the City of Newport Beach will create a Confined Aquatic Disposal (CAD) facility to address underwater sediment buildup.

In partnership with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the City will dredge areas of Newport Harbor and bury the removed sediment in a hole at the bottom of the harbor. Because the dredged material is polluted with hazardous chemicals, the City will cover the hole with a layer of non-contaminated sediment to act as a barrier.

Orange County Coastkeeper opposed the project because the group believes the City had misrepresented the dangers of the project and not considered less risky alternative projects.

“We were hopeful that the Coastal Commission would deny the project and push the City to develop a safer plan to address the hazardous sediment,” said Garry Brown, OC Coastkeeper’s Founder and President. “However, we’re glad the Commissioners added conditions that address some of our concerns.”

OC Coastkeeper’s primary issues with the Newport CAD project include:

  • Testing shows high levels of harmful chemicals, such as PCB and DDT, in marine life that were exposed to the project’s sediment.
  • The project’s two-year interim cap layer is only 12 inches deep. This thin buffer is at risk of being disturbed by burrowing marine life and boating activity, which would release hazardous substances into the harbor.
  • The City did not thoroughly consider potential alternative projects, some of which would have treated the contaminated sediment before disposal.

For more information, visit the Orange County Coastkeeper’s website at https://www.coastkeeper.org.

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