AG Coakley's Office Settles Case with Cashman Dredging in Connection with Beverly Harbor Dredging Dump
"When companies like Cashman perform work in the Commonwealth's sensitive wetlands and coastal ecosystems, they must comply with the permits issued by MassDEP for that work," said Attorney General Coakley. "Here, Cashman's alleged failure to carefully conduct its dredging activities damaged important fisheries habitat in Beverly Harbor. The civil penalty and habitat improvement work required will alleviate the damage Cashman caused to the harbor seabed, and also help ensure that companies adhere to permit requirements during dredging projects."
The complaint alleges that in 2007 and 2008, Cashman dredged and disposed of sediment in the tidal flats of the Porter River and Beverly Harbor in violation of several state permits governing the project. Specifically, the complaint alleges that Cashman dumped approximately 2,500 cubic yards of dredged material in Beverly Harbor, which provides federally-designated, "essential spawning habitat" for winter flounder. According to the complaint, fine-grained sediment, like that dumped in the harbor seabed, is deadly to larval and juvenile winter flounder. The complaint also alleges that Cashman dredged outside the permitted area in the Porter River and used a method called "side-casting" that was not allowed under the permits. As a result, the habitat is not usable for the foreseeable future.
This case arose from a complaint to the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection's (MassDEP) Environmental Strike Force hotline (1-800-VIOLATE). Recognizing that both federal and state issues were involved, MassDEP partnered with the Massachusetts Coastal Zone Management agency, the Attorney General's Office, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA), and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to conduct a coordinated investigation into the alleged violations.
The settlement with the Commonwealth requires Cashman to remove certain existing boat moorings located in Beverly Harbor and to replace them with "low-impact" moorings. The low-impact moorings will reduce damage to the seabed from the existing mooring chains and concrete blocks and will improve water quality in the harbor. Cashman has also entered into a consent agreement and final order with USEPA under which it will pay an additional $37,500 on the low-impact mooring installation, and pay a $12,500 civil penalty.
"MassDEP joined forces with our state and federal environmental counterparts to share technical expertise and conduct a thorough investigation into this dredging project," said MassDEP Commissioner Laurie Burt. "The joint investigation will result in a substantial penalty and the placement of better moorings that will increase protection of sensitive marine habitat in the harbor."
"It is very important for companies that provide dredging services to carefully follow all of the permit requirements. This helps to protect our environment," said Curt Spalding, regional administrator of EPA's New England office.
This case was handled by Assistant Attorney General Tracy Triplett of Attorney General Coakley's Environmental Protection Division. Investigating the case for Massachusetts and working with the Attorney General's Office on its enforcement are MassDEP Strike Force staffers Richard Tomczyk and Jennifer Davis, MassDEP Bureau of Resource Protection staffers Ken Chin, and Lealdon Langley, as well as Robert Boeri of Massachusetts Coastal Zone Management.