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April 22, 2013 | last updated April 22, 2013 11:17 am

Army Corps presents Searsport dredge plan

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has issued a draft environmental assessment that gives early recommendation to a $12 million dredging effort in Searsport Harbor, the state's second-busiest industrial port.

The Bangor Daily News reported the Army Corps of Engineers released its feasibility and environmental impact study earlier this month, outlining a "tentatively recommended" plan for dredging the harbor. The project has generated criticism from environmental activists who say it could dislodge toxins from silt and damage Penobscot Bay.

John Henshaw, executive director of the Maine Port Authority, says deepening the channel to provide clearance for commercial vessels is "extremely important" to the port's continued economic viability.

The paper reported that the harbor's federal navigation channel was dug to a depth of 35 feet in 1962 but has had no maintenance since then.

The proposed dredging project would remove an estimated 892,000 cubic yards of silt and sediment from the channel to deepen and widen entry into the port.

The new assessments from the Army Corps of Engineers will be open to public comment through May 6, the paper reported, and can be sent by mail or email to cenae-ep@usace.army.mil.

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