Maine DEP letter to Brian Nutter, Maine DOT 11/27/95, asking for MDOTs response to questions on the Sears Island port proposal's wetlands impacts, and questioning the need for woodchip exports .


Department of Environmental Protection

Angus S. King, Jr, Governor
Edward O Sullivan, Commissioner

November 27, 1995

Brian Nutter
Special Projects
Maine Department of Transportation
16 State House Station
Augusta, ME 04333

Dear Brian:

I am in the process of preparing DEP comments on your applications for the Sears Island Cargo Terminal. I had planned on sending a comprehensive list after I completed my review. In light of the recent comments from the Corps, and my understanding that your agency is considering the feasibility of redesigning the facility, I have decided that it makes more sense to forward this agency's preliminary comments on the alternatives analysis right away. Please consider the following in your current analysis work, and provide a response as soon as possible:

Please provide me with a copy of your response to the Corps' DSEIS comments, and complete information regarding any new design proposal. Once a preferred alternative is chosen, please explain for our records why MDOT feels this alternative is the least environmentally damaging practical alternative. Also, explain how this alternative minimizes impacts on wetlands to the fullest extent practical. The NRPA application currently outlines advantages and disadvantages for various alternatives prepared for the Sears Island Cargo Terminal, and proposes one alternative for our review. The discussion does not provide sufficient information to show why the chosen alternative is considered by MDOT as the least environmentally damaging alternatives, particularly in regard to alternatives using pile supports.

If the new design includes more than 7 acres of wood chip storage area, please explain why this area can not be reduced in size in light of information presented in the TAMS report and the Kimball Chase report.

Please clarify for our records why an alternative design without wood chip storage areas (in wetland) is not a practical alternative given the volatility of the market, the low profit margin of this "raw" product, and MDOT's statement to this agency that a wood chip export is not required for the terminal project to be viable

The current design proposal includes locations for marketing areas in Class II wetlands. The State's Wetland Protection, Rules limit alteration of Class II wetlands to water dependent uses (and other uses clearly not applicable to the issue at hand). If the new design includes storage areas in Class II wetlands, MDOT will need to justify that these storage areas are water dependent. For marketing areas, draft any justification in light of cargo forecasting reports (KCCI report) which indicate that marketing areas need not be located on the waterfront, and could actually be moved off site. My recommendation would be to avoid impacts to DEP Class II wetlands for any uses other than crossings.

Please also consider, in any redesign, options that would reduce stream alterations and/or allow for stream diversions as an alternative to culvert and fill proposals.

If you have any questions, please let me know. I look forward to receiving information in response to these comments.

Sincerely, . . <;p>Stacey Beyer

Division of Land Resource Regulation
Bureau of Land and Water Quality
Bangor Regional Office