Posted on June 19, 2023
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is asking for public comment regarding the Wilmington Harbor 403 Letter Report and Environmental Impact statement.
The enhancement project would deepen the Wilmington harbor from 42 feet to 47. This expansion comes as Wilmington continues to experience more growth in cargo volume and in the size of vessels at the port.
USACE is taking comments regarding this expansion during its early scoping period, which runs from May 30 to June 30.
The corps is asking the public to submit questions, suggestions and concerns on the project after the Assistant Secretary of the Army (Civil Works) noted technical and policy concerns, which resulted in the conditional authorization of the project from Congress.
Col. Benjamin Bennett, commander of the Wilmington District, says the three aspects the project was asked to further develop were the environmental, economic and engineering impact.
Mayor Bob Bloszinsky of Kure Beach says the negatives of the environmental impact, despite the positive economic one, is what concerns him most.
“We have been concerned for quite a while on the interaction of potential surface water and the groundwater which we use from the Castle Hayne aquifer. A lot of the communities in the area use it, and we have a concern of potential contaminants, either from salinity or from the river that could actually get in the aquifer and create issues for our major water supply,” said Bloszinsky.
“The Corps will use scoping comments to formulate and refine alternatives,” according to a document provided by USACE. “The 403 effort will analyze the feasibility, benefits, costs and environmental impacts [of the project] of a range of alternatives, including the ‘no action’ alternative. For an improvement plan to be feasible, the benefits must exceed the costs and the project must be acceptable.”