N.C. Dept. of Environment and Natural Resources Secretary John Skvarla yesterday authorized the issuance of an emergency Coastal Area Management Act Major Permit to conduct agitation dredging at the Port of Morehead City.
Although the Port is authorized to maintain a water depth of 38 feet through the use of hydraulic dredging, a docking facility at Radio Island currently has depths as low as 29 feet, which is not deep enough for several vessels that use the facility. Agitation dredging will involve the use of a tug boat to drag a structural beam along the seabed. The beam displaces sediments, which are then flushed from the system during falling tides.
The one-time emergency CAMA permit authorizes agitation dredging to a depth of 33 feet. The department does not anticipate any significant adverse impacts from the resulting sediment plume.
Because the situation is urgent, the N.C. Ports Authority requested the emergency permit for agitation dredging as the most expedient way to achieve needed water depth in the harbor before an expected large vessel arrives later this week. The N.C. Ports Authority has an existing CAMA permit to perform similar work at the Port of Wilmington.
The project has also received authorization from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the N.C. Division of Water Resources.