News Feature

Blue Hill
Originally published in The Weekly Packet, November 9, 2017
Meeting to focus on cost of dredge study

by Anne Berleant

A public meeting on funding a study required by the Army Corps of Engineers before it will move forward with any dredging of Blue Hill Harbor will be held November 15 at 6 p.m. at town hall.

The harbor dredging project itself has not yet been approved by the Army Corps, but the latest study—to determine the specific petroleum contaminants in some of the material to be dredged and whether a proposed disposal method will work—requires the town to pay $30,000, half the study’s cost.

The proposed method is to drop contaminated material into a hole in the ocean and cover it with tons of “clean” dredge, effectively locking the contaminants in place. The study will determine whether any contaminants will disperse into the water as the material is dropped into the hole.

After discovering “hot spots” of the contaminants in 2016 during a dredging feasibility study, the ACOE determined through testing that the contaminants came from incidental gasoline spills, were not pervasive, and had not penetrated to the glacial layer, according to an Army Corps report to selectmen. But the contaminated material still must be addressed before any dredging begins.

If the project does move forward, the ACOE will dredge a 2,500-foot long channel from the harbor to a 38,000 square-foot turning basin, dredged to a depth of six feet at the mean low water line, regardless of the tide, to allow boat access to the town dock regardless of the tide.

Voters approved funding the town’s $80,000 share of the $160,000 feasibility study in 2013. Of the million-dollar cost of the dredging project, the town’s share is 10 percent upfront and, the Army Corps mentioned in a meeting with selectmen, an additional 10 percent over a 10-year period, information that Selectman Jim Schatz said is new and needs clarification.