Producer/Host: Amy Browne
Contributing producer: Matt Murphy
Segment 1: A standing-room-only crowd packed into an informational meeting at the Hutchinson Center in Belfast yesterday to hear details about the US Army Corps of Engineers and Maine DOT plans to dredge Searsport Harbor. The proposal is to deepen the channel near Mack Point to 40 feet, from the current 35, and to dump the sediment—nearly a million cubic yards of it — into Penobscot Bay.
Supporters say the depth needs to be expanded to 40 feet to accommodate larger ships and increase shipping traffic. Opponents have pointed out that Portland harbor is the same depth as Searsport currently, and does a great deal of business, and that there is already a deep water port in Eastport.
Most of the opponents of expansion dredging have voiced support of routine maintenance dredging, but there is concern about dumping of the sediment, which would most likely be done off the coast of Islesboro. While the ACoE recently stated that the materials are clean, and would not pose a risk to the fisheries in the bay, recent testing of the sediment near the adjacent docks has revealed a long list of heavy metals, carcinogens and endocrine disrupters – many present in levels severals times above the reportable limits.
After a slide presentation, which can be viewed on the Army Corps of Engineers website, the public was given an opportunity to direct comments and questions to representatives from the agencies at yesterday’s meeting. Today, in the special extended version of the WERU News Report, we’re bringing you some of the questions and comments, and the response from the reps from the state and federal agencies present. All but one person who spoke expressed concerns about the proposal, and the room was a sea of red shirts, worn to indicate solidarity with the lobstermen’s unions that have come out in opposition to the plan:
Segment 2: Matt Murphy with a report on efforts to raise funds for work against human trafficking – an interview with musician Peter Alexander