May 6, 2009 — In about a half-hour on Tuesday evening, St. Thomas Coastal Zone Management Committee members gave the unanimous thumbs-up to a dredging project calling for the funneling of more than 150,000 cubic yards of sediment into the middle of Lindbergh Bay.
The dredging of the Charlotte Amalie harbor — a joint project between the V.I. Port Authority and West Indian Co. Ltd — will allow for a new, larger Genesis class cruise ship to call on St. Thomas, replacing another in the Royal Caribbean fleet that has been relocated to the Mediterranean. The dredging spoils will be transported by barge from the harbor and funneled into the infamous Lindbergh Bay dredge hole — a 35-foot hole which some experts say has impacted fish and wildlife in the area and increased beach erosion since its creation in the 1930s.
The dredging has been opposed by residents who said during a CZM hearing last month that funneling the spoils into the bay would bring in contaminants such as arsenic and copper, would cause a "sedimentation plume" that would spread across the island in bad weather and would kill off marine life that has started to repopulate the area. (See: "Lindbergh Bay Backers Urge CZM To Back Off Plan To Dump Sediment.")
On Tuesday, the committee's approval came along with some conditions, ensuring:
– the government notifies Planning and Natural Resources' CZM Division two days before dredging starts;
– turbidity curtains — basically a silt curtain that keeps sediment from going out — are set up around the dredging area before work begins in the Charlotte Amalie harbor;
– turbidity curtains are set up around the dumping area in Lindbergh Bay, and that all dredged material be deposited into the hole using a tremmie tube;
– the first layer of dredged material is topped off with an impermeable layer before placing all remaining layers of sediment into the hole;
– an independent monitor is hired through CZM before the project starts so all agreements and permit conditions are met;
-copies of all territorial and federal permits are submitted to CZM before dredging starts; and
– moorings are set up in Lindbergh Bay to help minimize anchoring impacts.
Present during Tuesday's decision hearing were CZM members Winston Adams, Richard Brown, Fern LaBorde, Austin "Babe" Monsanto and Peggy Simmonds.
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