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U.S. EPA requests public comment on proposed Orange County ocean disposal site

Release Date: 1/31/2005
Contact Information: Francisco Arcaute, U.S. EPA, (213) 244-1815, Cell: (213) 798-1404

Public comment period closes March 7

SAN FRANCISCO -- The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is requesting public comment on a draft environmental impact statement that proposes a deep water ocean disposal site located offshore of Newport Beach in Orange County that would supplement an ocean disposal site offshore of Los Angeles where dredgers have long disposed of dredged material from Southern California port deepening and maintenance projects.

The draft environmental impact statement proposes a permanent dredged material site to handle the needs of Orange County that will be jointly managed with the Los Angeles site, a permanent ocean dredged material disposal site designated primarily to handle the dredging needs of Los Angeles County. The site offshore of Newport Beach, known as "LA3" has been used as an interim ocean disposal site 1976; today's announcement proposes the site as a permanent alternative.

Under the draft environmental impact statement, the Los Angeles site, known as "LA2," would increase the amount of materials it receives to 1 million cubic yards per year while limiting the amount at the Orange County site to 2.5 million cubic yards per year. Dredging projects from ports in Southern California -- the largest being Los Angeles/Long Beach -- can generate millions of cubic yards of sediment annually; much of the suitable (nontoxic) material has been reused for area construction projects or habitat restoration.

The Orange County site is about 4.5 nautical miles offshore of Newport Beach in roughly1,500 feet of water. The Los Angeles site is located almost 6 nautical miles offshore of the Los Angeles Harbor in water depths ranging from 360 to 1,100 feet.

"In proposing this ocean disposal site, the EPA has completed extensive studies to ensure the location is best suited for dredged materials," said Alexis Strauss, director of the EPA's Water Division in San Francisco. "We will continue to monitor all dredging operations to ensure protection of coastal resources, and make our findings available to the public."

Dredging maintains safe navigation in harbors and marinas in the Los Angeles County and Orange County region. In order for a dredging project to be authorized to dispose of dredged material, sediment evaluations -- which include physical, chemical, and biological testing -- are first evaluated by the EPA and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Under the general sediment management strategy, all dredged material will be evaluated for pollutants, and, if suitable, will then be transported to the approved location(s). To ensure that dredgers are complying with the strategy, the EPA, the Corps of Engineers and others agencies have enforcement authority under the Clean Water Act, the Marine Protection, Research and Sanctuaries Act, and state statutes.

To view the draft environmental impact statement, go to:

A 45-day public comment period runs Jan. 21 - March 7. Public meetings are scheduled for: February 9, 2 - 4 p.m. and 7 - 9 p.m. The Upper Newport Bay Peter and Mary Muth Interpretive Center (corner of University Drive and Irvine Avenue) 2301 University Drive, Newport Beach, Calif. 92660

For further information on the LA-3 project, please contact Allan Ota at (415) 972-3476 or via email at