USA: Illegal Dredging Activities at Montauk Lake Exposed

Following an investigation, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) has issued notices of violation to the owner of a Montauk marina and local marine contractor for conducting regulated activities without valid permits, according to Regional Director Peter A. Scully. The enforcement action stems from a dredging project undertaken at the marina in May, according to Scully, who credited the Group for the East End with bringing the situation to DEC’s attention.

“The protection of tidal wetlands is an important priority for DEC, and violations like those that have been documented at this site require a forceful enforcement response,” Regional Director Scully said. “DEC staff and law enforcement officers work tirelessly to promote and protect Long Island’s environment, but with almost 1,200 square miles and more than 1,180 miles of shoreline to cover, they cannot be everywhere. As this case clearly demonstrates, interested citizens can play an important role in helping to ensure the enforcement of environmental laws.”

According to Scully, DEC received a complaint from the Group for the East End that a road had been constructed in a tidal wetland at the marina to allow an excavator and oversized dump truck to drive into the regulated tidal wetland to dredge the marina. The Group also provided photographs showing that a dewatering lagoon had also been constructed, complete with discharge pipes that channeled silt and sediment into Lake Montauk.

DEC staff determined that in 2004, DEC had issued a permit authorizing the owner to do repair work in and around the marina area, including replacement of a bulkhead and performing maintenance dredging. DEC staff investigating the recent complaints quickly found that the original permit expired in 2009, and that the dredging activities underway at the site were much different than what had been originally authorized. These activities included:

• The expansion of a natural sandbar for the creation of a road on which heavy, non-permitted equipment could conduct dredging activities.

• The use of hydraulic dredging equipment not authorized by the expired permit.

• The creation of a diked area for dewatering of dredged sludge dredged material, with discharge pipes releasing water, silt and sediment into the wetland.

• The placement of dredge spoil on a sandbar in the tidal wetland for dewatering purposes.

In addition, while investigating these violations, DEC was alerted to more activity on the property in mid-June – after DEC had requested no further work be conducted apart from the restoration of the sandbar. Further alleged violations include the removal of dredged material from the marina site to a mining facility in Bridgehampton. The mining facility’s permit does not allow acceptance of solid waste at the site, but the site allegedly accepted both dredge spoils and construction and demolition material.

Three individuals were charged as a result of the investigation: Richard Gibbs, owner of the marina, and Keith Grimes, (owner of the contracting firm Keith Grimes Inc.) were each cited for the following:

• Dredging without a permit.

• Constructing a road in a tidal wetland without a permit.

• Discharge of dredge waters to surface waters without a SPDES permit.

• Dredging after closure of June 1st (2009) window.

• Dredge spoil removed from the subject site in violations of DEC permit.

• Placement of fill in the form of dredge spoil in navigable waters of the state without a permit.

• Creation of a solid waste management facility, in that solid waste in the form of dredge spoil was placed, stored and dewatered on the site without a permit.

• Illegal disposal of solid waste in the form of dredge spoil was transported off-site to a facility neither exempt nor authorized to received and process solid waste.

• Failure to obtain coverage under SPDES permit for construction activities at the subject site, in that no person shall discharge or cause a discharge of any pollutant without a SPDES permit having been issued to such person.

• Failure to obtain a SPDES permit required for the discharge of the dredge spoil dewatering “effluent,” as this effluent has a reasonable potential to cause or contribute to a contravention of water quality standards (Turbity, TSS, etc.).

In addition, Susan Grimes, owner of Sagaponack Sand and Gravel located at 32 Haines Path, Bridgehampton, was issued violations for:

• Construction and Demolition (C&D) debris stored on site in violation of DEC mining permit.

• Two counts of operating a solid waste management facility without Department authorization for accepting and screening of solid waste without a permit and processing C&D debris such as concrete, soil, bricks etc., without first obtaining Department authorization.

As the next step in the enforcement process, the respondents will be offered an opportunity to resolve the violations at a compliance conference. If a negotiated resolution is not possible, the matters will advance to a formal hearing before a DEC Administrative Law Judge.


Source: hamptons, July 2, 2010;