Connecticut’s Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) on Monday announced that the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Marine Debris Program has awarded $752,822 in federal funds to the State of Connecticut through an agreement for removal of marine debris from Connecticut’s shoreline. The Marine Debris Program funds were made available to states impacted by debris from the October 2012 Storm Sandy.
During the 2012 hurricane season, storm Sandy inflicted severe damage on communities and coastal resources over large areas of the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast states, depositing significant amounts of large and small debris on coastal waters and along shorelines. In the aftermath of Sandy, marine debris was found in concentrations across the impacted region, posing potential hazards to navigation, commercial fishing grounds, and sensitive ecosystems.
DEEP will use the awarded funding to facilitate removal of Sandy-generated marine debris from Connecticut’s coastline and provide the ability to mitigate damage to coastlines and reduce threats to terrestrial and marine wildlife. More specifically, DEEP will conduct work with specialized equipment to recover hazardous materials, derelict vessels, construction and demolition materials, and other large debris as well as removal of smaller debris such as plastic, foam and Styrofoam. Sustainable debris disposal is an important element of the project to prevent the collected debris from returning to the environment and to recycle as much of the material as possible. Survey and monitoring work will complement the debris removal activities.
DEEP reviewed NOAA aerial surveys and DEEP surveys and identified eight areas for debris removal activities. Those areas include:
1. Connecticut River Tidal Marsh areas in Old Lyme and Old Saybrook
2. Hammonasset State Park in Madison
3. West River and East River Marshes in Guilford
4. West Point in Branford
5. Carolina Creek in East Haven
6. Silver Sands State Park in Milford
7. Housatonic River Marshes in Milford and Stratford
8. Pleasure Beach area in Stratford and Bridgeport
“Post-storm recovery from Sandy has been a challenging process for Connecticut’s shoreline ecosystems as well as for the many residents that were impacted during the storm,” said DEEP Commissioner Rob Klee. “We appreciate the partnership with the NOAA Marine Debris Program and the opportunity to obtain funding which will allow us to restore the natural tidal marsh areas along our shoreline.”
“Natural disasters can cause significant and unexpected marine debris challenges for coastal communities all over the country,” said Nancy Wallace, NOAA Marine Debris Program director. “We look forward to working with DEEP on this removal project so that Connecticut's coastal ecosystems can continue to recover.”