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California Coastal Commission OKs Newport Bay dredging plan

Newport Beach and its adjacent bays.

Posted on October 17, 2022

The California Coastal Commission Friday approved a permit for plans to contain contaminated sediment in Lower Newport Bay.

The commission voted 8-1 for a confined aquatic disposal facility, which is akin to digging a hole for the unwanted sediment and capping it off with clean sand.

The project includes removing some contaminated sediment and keeping it in the facility, which could hold about 112,500 cubic yards of the dredged material. The plan is to dredge about 282,400 cubic yards of sediment.

Commission staffers said it was the “least damaging feasible alternative for disposal of contaminated sediments.”

The sediment contaminated by DDT, mercury and other chemicals would be covered by clean sand to keep it from leeching out. Commission staffers said the project would also “improve public access and recreational opportunities due to the placement of approximately 282,400 cubic yards of clean and grain-size compatible sand along a stretch of eroding beach immediately upcoast of the Newport Harbor entrance.”

Chris Miller, the city’s public works director, told the commission the sediment in question was deemed not toxic.

“The EPA has informed us it is not toxic or threatening and can remain in place,” Miller said. “It is not toxic or hazardous.”

The Army Corps of Engineers also signed off on the Newport dredging project.

OC Coastkeeper opposed the project. The organization claimed city officials “misrepresented” the project’s danger.

“We were hopeful that the Coastal Commission would deny the project and push the city to develop a safer plan to address the hazardous sediment,” Coastkeeper President Garry Brown said in a statement.

Brown added he was comforted that the commission addressed some of the organization’s concerns.


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