COASTAL WATERS PROJECT
PO Box 94
Lincolnville, ME 04849
(207)789-5310 September 27, 1995
Comments on the Draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement for the Sears Island Marine Dry Cargo Terminal Project.
The Coastal Waters Project is a citizens' association dedicated to restoring and protecting the ecological integrity of the nearshore waters of the US Atlantic Coast through local oversight and citizen action. Members of the Coastal Waters Project use Penobscot Bay to culture shellfish and to harvest wild shellfish and other naturally occurring marine life. Members are involved in other actions to protect and responsibly manage the fisheries of Penobscot Bay and the greater Gulf of Maine region, including its freshwater drainage.
Based on our review of the Draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement and related documents, we are requesting that the US Army Corps of Engineers and Federal Highway Administration include in their Records of Decision a finding that the draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement falls short of NEPA requirements through inadequate description of the affected environments and of the primary, secondary and cumulative impacts to these environments.
The Record of Decision should also state that all specified site alternatives would result in significant adverse primary impacts to protected and commercially managed terrestrial and marine resources in the vicinity of the proposed action; significant adverse secondary impacts to protected and commercially managed terrestrial resources in the area to be serviced by the proposed facility and to protected and commercially marine resources in Penobscot Bay and the southwestern gulf of Maine; and significant cumulative adverse impacts to already stressed terrestrial, marine and estuarine ecosystems, resulting in serious adverse impacts to threatened and endangered species and commercially significant terrestrial and marine species found in the Northern Forest, Penobscot Bay and the western Gulf of Maine.
Based on the above grounds, the US Army Corps of Engineers should deny the applicant a Clean Water Act 404 permit and rule that at minimum, a new supplemental environmental impact statement is required to address these inadequacies. We will send additional comments on several sections of the SEIS prior to the close of the comment period.
Ron Huber, Director
Coastal Waters Project
Comments on the Draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement for the Sears Island Marine Dry Cargo Terminal Project. September 25, 1995
submitted by Ron Huber, Director, Coastal Waters Project
The Coastal Waters Project is a citizens' association dedicated to restoring and protecting the ecological integrity of the nearshore waters of the US Atlantic Coast through local oversight and citizen action. Members of the Coastal Waters Project use Penobscot Bay to culture shellfish and to harvest wild shellfish and other naturally occurring marine life. Members are involved in other actions to protect and responsibly manage the fisheries of Penobscot Bay and the greater Gulf of Maine region, including its freshwater drainage. Based on our review of the Draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement and related documents, we are requesting that the US Army Corps of Engineers and Federal Highway Administration include in their Records of Decision a finding that the draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement falls short of NEPA requirements through inadequate description of the affected environments and of the primary, secondary and cumulative impacts to these environments.
The Record of Decision should also state that all specified site alternatives would result in significant adverse primary impacts to protected and commercially managed terrestrial and marine resources in the vicinity of the proposed action; significant adverse secondary impacts to protected and commercially managed terrestrial resources in the area to be serviced by the proposed facility and to protected and commercially marine resources in Penobscot Bay and the southwestern gulf of Maine; and significant cumulative adverse impacts to already stressed terrestrial, marine and estuarine ecosystems, resulting in serious adverse impacts to threatened and endangered species and commercially significant terrestrial and marine species found in the Northern Forest, Penobscot Bay and the western Gulf of Maine. Based on the above grounds, the US Army Corps of Engineers should deny the applicant a Clean Water Act 404 permit and rule that at minimum, a new supplemental environmental impact statement is required to address these inadequacies.
We will send additional comments on several sections of the SEIS prior to the close of the comment period.(9/25/95 marked with *) and 9/29/95 (marked with **)].
Ron Huber, Director
Coastal Waters Project
SECTION 2.0 ALTERNATIVES General Comments Too little attention is paid to the impacts to upland forest acreas and drainage and biological migration pathways from uplands to tidal wetlands stemming from construction and operation of the rail line and rail bridges along the northwestern side of Sears Island. There will be numerous wetland crossings and filling. Do these fall under a general permit? If they do individually, they still offer serious adverse impacts cumulatively.
Under different alternatives there will be different amounts of rail and truck activity. The amount of copper and other metallic dusts eroding from the brake shoes of the trucks and railcars into tidal waters will vary by amount of rail and truck use. The amount of woodchip leacheate released through stormwater and groundwater infiltration into tidal waters will vary based on the size of the working area.
The additional cargo potential recently cited by the Bangor & Arootook Railroad could require working area expansion beyond the various site dimensions in the existing alternatives to be able to efficently service the additional business. This would require an consideration of at least three different new alternatives:
These would have the same general configurations as D-1, D-2(A) and D-4(D) but with enlarged wharf and working areas to allow an additional number of ships to be serviced at once. They would also require additional dredging to enlarge the existing dredged basin.
The Alternatives analysis should include a detailed look at at least one Mack Point alternative.
SECTION 3.1 REGIONAL SETTING AND STUDY AREA GENERAL COMMENT The delineation of the regional setting and study area for the project is unreasonably limited. As MDOT argues in the DSEIS that woodchip export is an indispensable and necessary operation for all Alternatives, the woodchip sourcing area needs to be included as part of the Study Area. This is a reasonable expansion of the SEIS, as woodchip export was not discussed in the EIS for the Earlier Action, but was discussed during interagency meetings on the SEIS and is discussed in detail as a major justification for building the port in the draft SEIS.
Several earlier sections of the DSEIS (and a recent (September 11, 1995) announcement by the Maine state government and the Bangor and Aroostook Railroad and other potential port users) specifically or implicitly make the case that woodchip production and export is an indispensable and necessary operation for all the listed alternatives:
Section 1.1 'Purpose and need for action', notes that "as early as 1978, one goal of the state was to locate a terminal at a site which would maximize cargo throughput from the commercial forested areas in Maine."
In Section 2.13.2 'Reasonableness of an alternative that excludes woodchips as a cargo', MDOT "found the idea of eliminating a major forecasted cargo [woodchips] unacceptable." MDOT also "concluded that the no-woodchip alternative is technically and economically unsuited to the project's core goals."
In Section 2.13.2. the Federal Highway Administration is quoted as saying in 1993 that "Woodchips, like paper and other forest products has always been among the targeted products...[I]t would be unreasonable and inconsistent with project purpose to carry forward as buildable any alternative that does not adequately provide a practical terminal facility for woodchips..."
Two large industrial forest owners, Bowater Corporation and Champion International, are on record as supporting woodchip export through the proposed port facility, as is the Maine Forest Products Council.
The Maine government, Bangor & Aroostook Railroad and others recently announced an expansion of the planned service area to extend beyond Maine's hinterlands to include rail cargo from the rest of New England and parts of the Midwestern United States as well as parts of Canada. Such rail cargo may reasonably be anticipated to include wood and woodchips from those areas. The Maine Department of Conservation has also publicized its support for woodchip export through Sears Island.
The regional setting and study area should be expanded to encompass the whole of Penobscot Bay and the southwestern gulf of Maine, as building and operation of the port, particularly in light of the recently proposed expansion of the service area.
Additional cargo would likely require an expansion of port facilities and operations, resulting in significant further direct, secondary and cumulative degradation of the Penobscot Bay ecosystem, with secondary and cumulative impacts to marine ecosystems of the southwestern Gulf of Maine.
The National Environmental Policy Act requires "an early and open process for determining the scope of issues to be addressed and for identifying the significant issues related to a proposed action."
With woodchips and other cargoes from areas well beyond the immediate project site now anticipated to be shipped through the port, the scope of the SEIS is inadequate and should be extensively revised. Similarly, the scope of marine and estuarine areas potentially affected by the Proposed Action is inadequate.
NEPA Section 1501.7(c) states that "An agency shall revise the determinations made under paragraphs (a) and (b) of this section if substantial changes are made later in the proposed action, or if significant new circumstances or information arise which bear on the proposal or its impacts".
NEPA Section 1502.9(c) of these regulations states that "Agencies shall prepare supplements if the agency makes substantial changes in the proposed action that are relevant to environmental concerns; or if there are significant new circumstances or information relevant to environmental concerns and bearing on the proposed action or its impacts."
The announced service area expansion fits the definition of "substantial changes in the proposed action" and of "significant new information relevant to environmental concerns and bearing on the proposed action or its impacts."
For the above reasons, MDOT is required to prepare a new Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement. Failure to do so would violate the above NEPA sections, leaving the SEIS vulnerable to legal challenge. The Proposed Action:
* could have socioeconomic effects resulting from changes to longterm productivity and availability of wood fiber stocks in the woodchip sourcing area;
* could cause substantial damage to forest, stream and wetland habitat in the woodchip sourcing area, resulting in secondary and cumulative adverse effects on commercially and recreationally exploited plant and animal species;
* could have adverse impacts to threatened or endangered species known to exist within the woodchip sourcing area;
Therefore, expansion of Section 3.1's delineation of the regional setting and study area to encompass the woodchip and other cargo sourcing area, Penobscot Bay and the southwestern gulf of Maine is necessary to satisfy NEPA requirements. See general comments on Section Sec.3.1, above.
SECTION 3.8 EXISTING CONDITIONS Marine Flora/Fauna
*SECTION 3.8.3 EELGRASS The DSEIS' depiction of the role of eelgrass in the Penobscot Bay ecosystem is inadequate. The study should note that eelgrass provides essential habitat for the metamorphosis and survival of the species listed in this section. Eelgrass detritus is also a primary food for menhaden, a very important commercial species. (Source: V. P. Lewis, "Menhaden - a single step from vascular plant to fishery harvest". J. Exp. Mar. Biol. Ecol. 84:95-100.
In Seagrass Meadows: Nursery for Coastal Species NMFS biologists Mark Fonseca, W.J. Kenworthy and GW Thayer, state:
"The relative stability of seagrass meadows, coupled with their complex physical structure and high rate of primary production, enable them to form the basis of an abundant and diverse faunal community. No other marine plants are uniquely adapted for the position which seagrasses occupy in the shallow marine environment." [our emphasis]
"For many fishery organisms, there is no one reason why they use this habitat, rather there are a combination of features which provide many essential resources. For some animals, seagrass is primarily a substrate for attachment, but for others, such as small cryptic animals and juveniles of many economically valuable species, food and shelter are obtained simultaneously." "Although direct trophic transfer from plant to animal is minimal, indirect trophic linkages through a detrital foodweb and associated epiphytic and benthic algae are enormous." FROM: Proceedings, National Symposium on Coastal Fish Habitat Conservation, 1991.
Section 3.8.4 Fisheries
The SEIS characterizes a 1980 US Fish & Wildlife Service study, and an incomplete and vaguely presented NMFS fishery landings data, as "an updated summary of finfish diversity".
There have been several important studies of finfish abundance and diversity in Penobscot Bay, including the vicinity of Sears Island, since then. There is also credible information available that, due to the Gulf of Maine's overall counterclockwise circulation, Penobscot Bay serves as a nursery area for commercially managed Gulf of Maine coastal marine species southwest of Penobscot Bay. This section will be deficient if it does not characterize the existing conditions of that area.
* In 1983 The Maine Department of Marine Resources Laboratory in Boothbay Harbor published the results of finfish bycatch surveys carried out in the upper Penobscot Bay as part of a shrimp research project. State and federally managed species found in their juvenile form in the vicinity of Sears Island by this survey:
(OE = considered over exploited; FE = considered fully exploited)
In addition, juvenile halibut were found in the research trawl. Halibut populations are at such low levels in the Gulf of Maine that fishing for them is closed.
Other species found in the DMR study include important forage species such as tomcod, sea herring, alewife, smelt, shanny, silverside, red hake, rockling, three spine stickleback, sea raven, wrymouth, hookear sculpin, longhorn sculpin, shorthorn sculpin, eel pout, lumpfish, conger eel, butterfish, blueback herring, as well as squid, little skate, alligator fish, pipefish, and dogfish.
All of these species have an important role in the ecological community structure of Penobscot Bay. The SEIS will be deficient if the abundance and needs of these species are not characterized in this section.
**Section 3.8.4 Existing Conditions, Fisheries This section needs to discuss in detail the Northern Shrimp, Pandalus borealis, which migrates to spawn into Penobscot Bay and is both an important link in the finfish food chain and an important seasonal commercial fisheries resource.
SECTION 220.127.116.11 EXISTING CONDITIONS: SEALS Recent reports in the media have discussed a documented major increase in seal populations in Penobscot Bay since 1992.
The SEIS should include an examination of the latest data, as changing conditions (loss of forage species offshore and in Canadian waters) could conceivably have resulted in a major increase in usage of Sears Island Ledge as a haul-out and whelping area for harbor seals and gray seals.
SECTION 18.104.22.168 PRIMARY IMPACTS ON PLANKTON, EARLIER ACTION Direct Effects This section must also include closure of an important migratory corridor and nutrient transport pathway over the preexisting bar by construction of the causeway, in addition to the 3.7 acres of direct habitat displacement. NAI's data suggests that over 8,000,000 cubic feet of surface waters crossed this bar daily prior to the Earlier Action.
SEC 22.214.171.124 Secondary Effects The causeway significantly disrupts ichthyoplankton migration from outer Penobscot Bay to nursery areas in Long Cove and Stockton Harbor as well as nutrient transport necessary for the production of phytoplankton and of prey zooplankton species. The causeway may also be a major factor in the local decline of clams due to reduced larval motility, reduced prey availability for clam larvae, and from concentration of industrial, state and municipal wastes discharged into Long Cove and Stockton Harbor waters due to reduced flushing.
According to Maine DMR Research Reference Document 88/6: Life History Strategies of Nearshore Ichthyoplankton in Central Maine, larval Atlantic herring typically migrate as ichthyoplankton from saltwater locations into mixed salinity estuarine locations inshore.
Herring larvae are transported by prevailing Gulf of Maine currents from spawning beds offshore of eastern Maine to estuarine shallows in Midcoast Maine such as those in the vicinity of the Earlier Action, Stockton Harbor and Long Cove.
NOAA's 1994 Report Distribution and Abundance of Fishes and Invertebrates in North Atlantic Estuaries, reports that the planktonic larvae of Atlantic Herring migrate into the mixed salinity waters of Penobscot Bay, such as those in the vicinity of Sears Island. This report also notes the presence of the larvae and juveniles of many other fish and shellfish species in upper Penobscot Bay's waters.
DMR 1983 Penobscot Bay Shrimp Survey Report noted the abundance of juvenile herring, winter flounder and 30 other species in the vicinity of Sears Island. Winter flounder and windowpane flounder, which accounted for the majority of juvenile fish captured as bycatch, are important commercially managed species. Herring is a keystone forage species that is also of great commercial value both in the sardine industry and as lobster fishing bait. The abundance and distribution of planktonic prey in these areas is a limiting factor in juvenile herring survival.
DMR 1991 Report: Transboundary Herring Studies, Upper Penobscot Bay. Research Report # 2 Found that large concentrations of early juvenile herring occur in the upper waters of Penobscot Bay in the late spring, just after metamorphosing from larvae. Stomach content analysis showed benthic copepods were common, suggesting that the juveniles feed off the bottom. Calanoid copepods were also common in juvenile brit herring stomachs as were invertebrate eggs.
Section 3.7.1 of the DSEIS, Water Resources (Regional Environment), cites a 1989 NOAA report ranking Penobscot Bay as High to Moderately High in estimated pollution susceptibility and retention of potential pollutants.
The construction of the causeway has significantly reduced the flushing capability of upper Penobscot Bay and may be concentrating pollutants in Stockton Harbor and Long Cove. A later section of the DSEIS,Section 126.96.36.199, notes runoff from the General Alum industrial facility discharges into Stockton Harbor. In 1994, the Maine DEP cited General Alum for several unauthorized discharges of chemical wastes into Stockton Harbor. In 1995, in the course of the licensing process, Maine Dept of Environmental Protection noted potential leakage problems with the Defense Fuels Terminal at Mack Point in Searsport. In the course of the licensing process, the Defense Department cited recent spillage problems associated with civilian petroleum importers at Mack Point in Searsport.
The creation of the causeway as part of the Earlier Action may be concentrating chemical contaminants, resulting in the reduced shellfish survival noted in section 188.8.131.52. where the admission is made that mitigation carried out as part of the Previous Action has been unsuccessful. In addition, siltation rate has increased at Mack Point as a result of the blockage in water movement, requiring more frequent dredging.
*Section 184.108.40.206 Primary Impacts, Fisheries, earlier action. This section must also include closure of an important migratory corridor and nutrient transport pathway over the preexisting bar by construction of the causeway, in addition to the 3.7 acres of direct habitat displacement. NAI's data suggests that over 8,000,000 cubic feet of surface waters crossed this bar daily prior to the Earlier Action. See comments on ichthyoplankton, Section 220.127.116.11.
Section 18.104.22.168 Primary Impacts Fisheries, Proposed Action Direct loss of eelgrass and degradation of additional areas of eelgrass through propwash and biochemical degradation of the water column from toxic and nutrient rich woodchip leachate runoff could result in a decline in fish abundance and distribution.
**Section 22.214.171.124 Other Economic Impacts The Section should make note that the "high-wage jobs" anticipated to be created in Waldo County to operate the port will be largely state government employees, increasing the size of the state government payroll hence burden on taxpayers.
SECTION 5.1 TERRESTRIAL RESOURCES Secondary & Cumulative Impacts
General Comments: Section 5.1 needs extensive expansion due to its failure to characterize likely significant secondary and cumulative impacts to terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems within the woodchip sourcing area for the proposed port.
Precedent There is ample precedent for making such a determination. In 1993 several proposed woodchip-oriented terminals on the Tennessee river were turned down when the FEIS prepared for them found a likelihood of significant adverse secondary and cumulative impacts to forest resources within the woodchip sourcing area from the amount of hardwood harvesting needed to economically operate such terminals. ('Final Environmental Impact Statement Chip Mill Terminals on the Tennessee River, February 1993 TVA/RG/EQS-93-2.)
Commenting in opposition to two proposed woodchip/whole log ports on the Tennessee River, on 4/8/94, Lee Barclay PhD, USF&WS, wrote to J.D. Norwood, Army Corps of Engineers that "Chip mills pose a significant threat to the environment that clearly deserves thorough evaluation of the direct, indirect and cumulative impacts of each facility under both NEPA and the ESA."
The Maine state government considers woodchip export to be a primary purpose for the proposed port. (See comments on Section 3.1 above) As the project is thus inextricably linked to woodchip export, an increase in forestry activities in the woodchip sourcing area is a reasonably expected secondary impact of the Proposed Action and needs to be thoroughly examined.
The effectiveness of existing voluntary programs, such as Best Management Practices is uncertain because their success depends on the willingness of industrial and non-industrial private forest owners to comply.
As indicated elsewhere in the DSEIS, the sourcing area (timber harvest area) for the facility consists of all of Hancock, Waldo, Knox and Lincoln counties, and extensive portions of Penobscot, Aroostook, Piscataquis, Somerset, Franklin and Kennebec counties.
According to the Maine Natural Areas Program and the Maine Dept of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, Maine's forests within the sourcing area for the proposed woodchip port provide critical habitat for four federally listed endangered species and one federally listed threatened species, as well as nine species that are candidates for listing as threatened or endangered species under the federal Endangered Species Act.
The federally listed endangered species within the sourcing area for woodchip export are the bald eagle, peregrine falcon, small whorled pogonia and furbish lousewort. The federally listed threatened species within the sourcing area for woodchip export is the Prairie White Fringed Orchid.
Candidate threatened and endangered species within the sourcing area for woodchip export include: Robinson's Hawkweed, Estuary monkey flower, Pondweed, Boot's rattlesnake root, Long's Bullrush, Gaspe Arrowgrass and New England Violet.
Atlantic Salmon, candidate for federal listing as an endangered species in eastern Maine, are known to transit upper Penobscot Bay and use the Ducktrap river within the woodchip sourcing area for woodchip export as a spawning and nursery area. Atlantic salmon habitats are also found elsewhere within the woodchip sourcing area.
The Proposed Action:
* Could cause increased logging to take place in Maine forests;
* Could have socioeconomic effects resulting from changes to longterm productivity and availability of wood fiber stocks in the woodchip sourcing area;
* Could cause substantial damage to forest, stream and wetland habitat in the woodchip sourcing area, resulting in secondary and cumulative adverse effects on commercially and recreationally exploited plant and animal species;
* Could have adverse impacts to threatened or endangered species known to exist within the woodchip sourcing area;
Expansion of Section 5.1 to include secondary and cumulative impacts to forest, stream and wetlands resources within the woodchip sourcing area is necessary to satisfy NEPA requirements.
Many of the circumstances and issues presently under review mirror those that arose in the TVA woodchip terminal permitting process: a privately owned hardwood sourcing area with minimal state controls over forestry practices, competing economic users of the forest resources, aquatic spawning and nursery areas and other areas of ecological significance, and federally listed threatened and endangered species.
On this basis, we believe that without consideration of the forest related impacts discussed above that permitting of the Sears Island Cargoport could cause, the SEIS falls well short of NEPA requirements for full analysis of secondary and cumulative impacts of the proposed action.
SECTION 5.2 MARINE FLORA/FAUNA SECONDARY & CUMULATIVE IMPACTS General Comments: This section needs extensive expansion due to its unreasonably deficient characterizations of potential Secondary and Cumulative Impacts to marine flora/fauna.
Scallop mariculture is a permitted use of the waters of Long Cove and Stockton Harbor. Clams' Fiesta Incorporated, a Rockland mariculture company planning on raising scallops in this area estimates that one acre of Long Cove is capable of generating between 20 and 35 thousand dollars of product per year. That reflects a potential $3,000,000 per year of economic activity that is hampered by both the earlier construction of the causeway and by anticipated degradation of Long Cove through port construction and operation.
The commercially significant species cited in comments on Section 3.8.4 face stiff fishery management restrictions due to low and declining populations. Changes in local marine community structure stemming from secondary and cumulative impacts of the earlier and proposed actions need to considered in this section.
Because they could significantly and adversely impact recruitment of these species through larval and juvenile habitat destruction, loss of migratory pathways and loss of forage species, consultation with the New England Fishery Management Council and Atlantic States Marine Fishery Commission should take place to determine whether the Proposed Action could result in a need to amend Federal Fishery Management Plans as a result of anticipated declines in species recruitment.
The results of such consultations need to be included in the Final SEIS to give permitting agencies adequate information for informed decisions.
5.2.1 Secondary Impacts. Anticipated Woodchip storage on Sears Island could result in the production and release of toxic woodchip leachates, including lignins and other compounds, into nearby juvenile nursery areas in Penobscot Bay. Such leachates have a toxic effect on marine and estuarine life, including planktonic species, fish and shellfish in some or all of all their lifestages.
Because woodchip storage and transfer from shore to ships is considered to be one of the primary functions of the proposed port, Section 126.96.36.199 needs to include an examination of this impact for all alternatives.
SECTION 5.2.2 Cumulative impacts The SEIS unreasonably limits its consideration of cumulative impacts to Long Cove and Stockton Harbor in the vicinity of Sears Island. Cumulative impacts include the impacts to marine flora and fauna stemming from water quality degradation by increased discharges and habitat degradation resulting from additional industrial development that would reasonably be induced by the Proposed Action.
Inducement of light and heavy industry and increased residential development in the vicinity of the proposed action is a reasonably foreseeable consequence of the Proposed Action. The SEIS needs to examine the secondary and cumulative impacts of additional runoff and industrial discharges on marine and estuarine resources both in the vicinity of the Proposed action and in the Greater Penobscot Bay that are already impacted by preexisting runoff and industrial discharges
Fish and shellfish species that propagate in upper Penobscot Bay tend to migrate to and replenish Maine's coastal waters southwest of Penobscot Bay. In addition, credible science has shown that estuaries such as upper Penobscot Bay serve an important role in replenishing offshore fisheries depleted by overfishing. Any diminution of productivity in upper Penobscot Bay stemming from construction and operation of the Proposed Action could have adverse consequences for commercial fisheries management.
The three port strategy, which the EIS called "an important theme guiding subsequent evaluations of industrial development." calls for the inducement and clustering of heavy industry in the Searsport area. The EIS for the Earlier Action stated that "A [new] marine terminal in Maine should be viewed as a portion of a larger industrial zone, including reservation of sites and effective industrial solicitation". The Three Port Plan calls for "controlled new heavy industry development" in three areas: " a) Machiasport-Cutler, b) Searsport-Stockton Springs-Penosbcot, and c) Portland-South Portland."
As this 'strategy' is a significant concept guiding creation of this port, the SEIS will be deficient if it does not examine the impacts of such development on the marine life of Penobscot Bay and the western Gulf of Maine.
Section 5.2.2 cont'd Fish - The draft SEIS unreasonably limits its consideration of cumulative impacts to Long Cove, Stockton Harbor and the waters in the immediate vicinity of the Proposed action. But the National Environmental Policy Act requires a consideration of all reasonably foreseeable impacts stemming from the Action.
Cumulative impacts would include those impacts that result from development of the port such as an onsite industrial park, and for reasonably foreseeable activities by others induced by the proposed project. The Maine Dept of Marine Resources and the National Marine Fisheries Service consider the waters in the vicinity of the Proposed Action to be a significant finfish nursery area, including commercially desirable species harvested elsewhere in Penobscot Bay. This degradation of essential habitat will result in a diminution of potential fisheries, and should be considered as a cumulative impact.
**Section 5.3.1 Socioeconomic Secondary Impacts The SEIS must greatly expand this section. The SEIS will be deficient if it does not discuss potential structural changes in the socioeconomics of the hinterland area to be exploited for woodchips and raw log exports through the proposed terminal. Diversion of raw materials from local economic exploitation to sale on the global raw commodities market will likely result in declines or closures of some percentage of locally owned, value-adding wood and fiber processing businesses, with secondary effects on related economic activity as well.
Diminution of commercially exploited living marine resources, due to reduced productivity from anticipated degradation of spawning, nursery and foraging habitat and water quality, will exert significant adverse socioeconomic impacts on coastal communities from upper Penobscot Bay to the southwestern Gulf of Maine. These secondary socioeconomic impacts need to be throroughly examined in the SEIS.
SECTION 6.1 TERRESTRIAL MITIGATION This section needs to expand its mitigation responsibilities to examining and remediating impacts to resources in the sourcing area for the primary cargo material, high quality woodchips. The sourcing area is the impact area for purposes of timber harvesting which could result from the procurement activities of the woodchip exporters who would be primary users of the port.
Consideration of such impacts is reasonable. The Maine state government considers woodchip export to be a primary purpose for the proposed port.
In Section 2.13.2 , MDOT "concluded that the no-woodchip alternative is technically and economically unsuited to the project's core goals." See related comments on Section 2.13.2 of the draft SEIS. The mitigation plan for the proposed action needs to encompass the sourcing area (timber harvest area) for the facility. This consists of all of Hancock, Waldo, Knox and Loncoln counties, and extensive portions of Penobscot, Aroostook, Piscataquis, Somerset, Franklin and Kennebec counties.
The mitigation plan for dealing with wetland and aquatic wildlife impacts within the sourcing area should be developed in accord with the Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) between the EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers regarding wetland mitigation, and as per Chapter 310 of the Wetland Protection Rules of the Maine DEP.
**Section 188.8.131.52 COMPENSATION General Comments. The compensatory mitigation package needs to address compensating for the anticipated secondary and cumulative adverse impacts to:
1. Protected and managed natural resources in the woodchip sourcing area for the facility, and in natural areas elsewhere that are significantly impacted by secondary developments that may reasonably be induced in the rail servicable hinterland specifically to exploit a Sears Island terminal; 2. Protected and managed resources in Penobscot Bay and the southwestern Gulf of Maine; and 3. The local small business economies that rely on these terrestrial, estuarine and marine resources.
The criteria list in Table 6.1.1 Preferred Characteristics of Freshwater Compensation Mitigation Sites needs expansion to include off-site locations in, at minimum, the nine counties within the sourcing area. Additional forms of compensation for increased forest impacts could include:
* The purchase of additional undeveloped islands from willing private sellers for preservation as state or federal parks.
* requiring Maine's Land Use Regulatory Committee to ban even- aged timber management from LURC managed lands, and require maintenance of species diversity in forests under LURC management.
SECTION 6.2 MARINE FLORA/FAUNA MITIGATION General comments: The Draft SEIS' scope of marine flora/fauna mitigation is overly narrow and vague. Given that the NMFS and the Maine Dept of Marine Resources have identified the vicinity of the Proposed Action as significant habitat for a variety of fin and shellfish species, mitigation should take the individual needs of these species into consideration, not merely broad and general categories such as eelgrass habitat and intertidal habitat, which are only a part of the overall affected marine ecosystem. Changes to area hydrology need to be considered.
Section 6.2.1 Objectives Under the Maine DEP's Wetland Protection Rules (Chapter 310) the marine environment around the proposed cargo terminal is considered Class I wetlands. For Class I wetlands, a 2:1 minimum is required for mitigation involving restoration, enhancement or creation, and an 8:1 minimum is required for compensatory mitigation. The SEIS must make note of this state requirement in this section.
SECTION 6.2.4 COMPENSATION This section makes an inaccurate and unjustified statement when it states: "...the previously constructed clamflats should be considered as providing compensation [for] losses of intertidal habitat caused by the proposed project. "See comments on section 184.108.40.206, below.
**220.127.116.11 EELGRASS HABITAT MITIGATION Mitigation should include both rhizome propagation and seed dispersal. Eelgrass habitat replacement must include additional organisms that make up the species assemblage found in eelgrass communities.
18.104.22.168 INTERTIDAL HABITAT MITIGATION The statement is made that "Monitoring results by NAI indicate that the created clamflats are functioning as moderately coarse-grained intertidal habitat, regardless of the quantity of soft shell clams in them." If the created flats are not supporting softshell clams, then they should not be considered to be functional clamflats. NMFS raised a similar objection to MDOT's attempt to characterize the shallows at Mack Point as eelgrass habitat, when there was no eelgrass growing there. The bottom line is: if a clam flat mitigation site is not supporting the organisms it was created to support, it is NOT a functional habitat, and the losses of intertidal habitat are not to be considered compensated for.
22.214.171.124 Softshell Clam Habitat Mitigation. The report admits that the mitigation project carried out as part of the Previous Action has not succeeded. MDOT's agreement to monitor the created clamflats is not an adequate response to this failure. Additional remediation, including removal of the causeway, needs to be considered.
SECTION 6.5.2 STORMWATER POLLUTION PREVENTION DURING OPERATIONS The Storm Water Pollution Prevention Plan needs to be expanded to include control of leachates from woodchip storage areas in the list of pollutants. As noted in Section 2.13.2, woodchip export is expected to be a major activity of all of the proposed alternative designs, so this particular issue needs to be addressed as part of the stormwater pollution prevention plan..
Credible science has recently determined that runoff from woodchip piles contains chemicals, including lignin, that are either toxic to marine and estuarine life or significantly reduce Dissolved Oxygen (DO) in the receiving waters. Removal of lignin from paper mill effluent is considered to be an important pollution reduction in Maine rivers.
Allowing such runoff from the terminal's woodchip storage area to be discharged as stormwater would violate both the Clean Water Act's 404(b)(1) guidelines and the Maine Natural Resources Act Section 480-C (Standards), both of which deny permits for activities that unreasonably harm estuarine and marine fisheries.
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