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EPA signs off on Port of Albany’s dredging plan for wind turbine tower factory

Beacon Island on the Hudson River looking west where a wind turbine manufacturing facility is planned on Monday, Feb. 13, 2023, in Bethlehem, N.Y. The Environmental Protection Agency has signed off with the Army Corps of Engineers on the dredging plan for the Port Of Albany's wind turbine tower factory.

Posted on February 15, 2023

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has signed off on plans to dredge the Hudson River off the shores of Beacon Island, where the Port of Albany is building an offshore wind turbine tower manufacturing plant.

The EPA was one of two federal agencies that had expressed concerns with a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers dredging permit that is required to build a 500-foot wharf at the water’s edge of the 82-acre Beacon Island site, which is an old landfill.

The EPA had complained to the Army Corps that the dredging plan was too environmentally damaging to the local sturgeon habitat and that the dredging permit should be denied if changes weren’t made.

The Port of Albany has proposed establishing an artificial habitat across the river at Schodack Island State Park to mitigate the potential damage of the dredging to the sturgeon habitat.

The EPA and the Port of Albany have been going back and forth on the issue since June, and completed several rounds of talks and exchanging of information until Dec. 1, when the Port of Albany provided the EPA with its final proposal.

At that point, the EPA said it was satisfied with the new dredging plan, according to a Jan. 25 letter the EPA sent to the Army Corps office in New York City.

“Following review of the applicant’s response, EPA determined the applicant has satisfactorily addressed EPA’s comments,” Richard Balla, supervisor  of the EPA’s watershed management branch, wrote in the letter.

The Port of Albany is building the wind turbine tower factory on Beacon Island for a consortium of companies that are building wind farms off the shore of Long Island under a contract with NYSERDA, the state’s renewable energy agency.

The Port of Coeymans is also planning to host a similar manufacturing site that would be operated by General Electric Co. for a new round of offshore wind farms.

The Beacon Island site, located in the town of Bethlehem, would employ hundreds of workers and would be the first such site in the U.S. that makes offshore wind turbine components. The offshore wind farms are critical to eliminate all fossil fuel electric generation in the state as part of New York’s strict climate change law.

The Beacon Island project has been controversial, leading a group of Glenmont residents in Bethlehem to sue the town and the Port of Albany over the approval process. Delays and problems with environmental permits ultimately led to the Port of Albany walking away from a $29 million federal grant for the project arranged by U.S. Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer. It is unclear how the Port of Albany intends to replace that money and pay for the initial site preparation contracts.


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