Monday, June 22 at 10 am, the Planning and Environmental Protection (PEP) Committee of the 28th Legislature will hold a continuation hearing on the question of ratification of the CZM Permit CZT-4-09W.
The permit issued to WICO and the Port Authority allows the dredging of the turning channel in St. Thomas (Charlotte Amalie) Harbor in order to accommodate the huge new Genesis class of cruise ships, and also allows the placement of the dredge spoils in a previously dredged depression in Lindbergh Bay.
According to WICO, the new class of ships will be good for the faltering economy of the Virgin Islands and will not significantly increase traffic congestion in Charlotte Amalie.
WICO has also claimed that placing the dredged material in the Lindbergh hole will improve the water quality of the bay and will enable more benthic life (sea grass and invertebrates) to survive within the depression.
The proposal to dispose of any dredge spoils in the Lindbergh depression, even if it were of the purest quality (which it is not), is scientifically a very bad idea.
WICO’s team of experts has not been able to present convincing evidence that the dredge materials will stay in the depression. They have not offered any examples of the success of the techniques and procedures to be used.
The assertion that all feasible alternative sites for the disposal of the spoils were explored is simply not so. Only Stalley Bay and Lindbergh Bay were considered; supposedly because it would take too long to obtain the permits for disposal at sites further away.
However, WICO has known about the need for the dredging for at least two years, and made no effort to negotiate any other alternatives. And actually, Stalley Bay was not a valid alternative, since it has been recognized for several years that there are healthy corals along the shoreline, and extensive sea grass beds immediately offshore.
During testimony at the first ratification hearing it became obvious that the real reason for choosing Lindbergh Bay was simply because it is nearby and therefore the least costly.
So we are going to risk spoiling a popular St. Thomas swimming bay because it is the cheapest solution for the Genesis cruise ship lines that apparently want the project so badly that they are footing the bill?! It might be cheap for them, but very costly for the health of the ecosystem and the future of the Lindbergh Bay businesses.
Come to Monday’s hearing if you can, even for a short time. If you can testify, all the better, but if that is not possible, send or deliver a short message to one or more members of the committee: Senators Malone (Chairman), Sanes (Vice-Chair), Donastorg, Dowe, Sprauve, Thurland and Williams.