Newport Beach Seeks Coastal Commission Approval for Controversial Dredging Project

NEWPORT BEACH— On Oct. 14, the OC Coastkeeper released a press release stating that the California Coastal Commission will review a contentious Coastal Development Permit application that would significantly impact Newport Harbor. The City of Newport Beach is looking to make a Confined Aquatic Disposal facility to address underwater sediment accumulation. If approved, the CAD project would bury contaminated sediment dredged from nearby channels in the center of Newport Harbor. Occasional dredging is essential to keep the waterways deep enough for boats to travel through safely.


Orange County Coastkeeper is arguing that the proposed CAD project is not the best option available for the following reasons:


1. The City of Newport Beach has wrongfully characterized the sediment as harmless. The city’s fact sheet claims that the dredged sediment is not considered hazardous or toxic but is still considered “unsuitable” to be disposed of in the EPA-approved ocean dumpsite off Newport’s coast.

2. The project’s thin proposed interim cap layer may lead to contamination due to burrowing marine life. For the first two years of the CAD project, the city would utilize a 12-inch cap layer until the project’s final capping is complete. However, Coastkeeper is concerned that burrowing marine life and emergency anchoring could disturb this thin layer of sediment, releasing hazardous substances into the harbor.

3. The city has not thoroughly considered potential alternative projects. Since the CAD project’s initial cost estimate and environmental impact report, new conditions have been added, leading Coastkeeper to question if the project’s initial cost estimates are accurate. In addition, Coastkeeper notes that the city has not considered alternative projects, such as plans that would treat the sediment before disposal.

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