Monday, March 15, 2010

Dredging at Mare Island might get nod this year

For more information click here

Some 14 years worth of accumulated silt in front of two Mare Island dry docks has about a 50-50 chance of qualifying for removal this year, a regional dredging official estimates. "It can happen quickly, if everything's in place," said Rob Lawrence, staff member with the Dredged Material Management Office in San Francisco. "But bottlenecks can happen if anyone falls behind." The Dredged Material Management Office for which Lawrence works is made up of a variety of state, regional and federal organizations, each with a stake in supplying Bay Area dredging permits. Company officials for California Dry Dock Solutions, also known as Allied Defense Recycling, are in the midst of a lengthy permit application process to dredge the Mare Island Strait. Once the waterway is clear, the company will be able to tow aged and decomposing World War II-era ships to Mare Island for dismantling and recycling, if awarded federal contracts to do so. The Vallejo Planning Commission gave the project operational approval in November. The company still needs to acquire a lease for the dry docks and some nearby land from property owners Lennar Mare Island. Silt dredging locally is generally allowed between June and the end of November -- though that window can be shortened by regulators, depending on the dredge sight's proximity to affected species…. Limiting the time for dredging protects the spawning periods for local marine life, particularly the endangered animals, Lawrence said. The marine company may need to acquire permits from federal and state fish and game offices, depending on what level the fish's endangerment is listed at, Lawrence said. Several fish species, including the Delta smelt, the long thin smelt, the green sturgeon and more, also could be affected by daily operation of the dry docks. The dry docks are massive formal naval inset docks with huge caisson doors protecting a dry area that can be drained for ship work -- and in which fish may be stranded. Anast said he hopes he would be given the provision Fish and Game permit, hinging on still-developing guidelines concerning dry docks and their effect on local fish species. He added that records show very few fish have been caught in the dry docks' history