Coastkeeper suit delays confined aquatic disposal facility planned for underneath Newport Bay

By Tom Johnson – June 06, 2023

Source: Stu News Newport Fair Game 060623

The United States Army Corps of Engineers (the Corps) has halted the dredging of Lower Newport Bay and construction authorization for the City of Newport Beach’s (the city’s) Confined Aquatic Disposal (CAD) facility. The Corps put things on hold after Orange County Coastkeeper (Coastkeeper) filed a lawsuit challenging their failure to fully analyze actions possibly violating the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and Endangered Species Act (ESA).

So, is that a good thing or a bad thing?

Sources tell me that the city is fine with postponement for several reasons. First, the delay allows them to gather further data and two, doing the work in the fall or winter is certainly more conducive than doing it in the middle of summer with all the crowds.

Initially, the Corps was required to respond to the lawsuit from Coastkeeper by June 16. However, in order to allow the Corps additional time to consider revisiting its compliance issues, all parties agreed to extend that deadline to July 12, including temporarily halting dredging activities and the authorization to construct the CAD facility.

The postponed project is an effort between the Corps and the city to dredge the federal channels in Newport Bay in order to address underwater sediment buildup that could eventually impact vessel navigability. The dredged material deemed unsuitable for open ocean disposal through the process due to elevated levels of contaminants such as mercury and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) would be permanently stored in a CAD facility constructed by the city within Lower Newport Bay.

At the CAD, this contaminated sediment would be covered with additional layers of less polluted sediment to try and prevent it from reentering the wider environment.

It’s been a controversial subject, particularly when it was previously considered elsewhere in Newport Bay.

Source: Stu News Newport: Fair Game 060623

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