Environmentalists said on Thursday they are prepared to sue the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers after researchers found dredging to deepen the port of Miami is burying coral and could destroy the surrounding marine ecosystem for years to come.
“All we’re asking for is that they follow state and federal law and they’re simply not doing that,” said Rachel Silverstein, executive director of the Biscayne Bay Waterkeeper, a local environmental advocacy group.
“The warning follows a similar complaint last month from the Biscayne Bay Waterkeeper watchdog group, which threatened to sue in September unless work is cleaned up…
Inspectors also discovered that large boulders placed in the channel to provide places for young coral to grow as part of a mitigation effort had crushed existing coral and sponges when they were dropped.
An artificial reef created to hold coral transplanted from the channel was dusted with a layer of sediment. Water had become so thick with silt and clay that it created “anoxic conditions” in which very little oxygen reached the bay bottom.”
Environmental Groups and Concerned Citizens File Notice to Sue U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for Endangered Species Act and Permit Violations in the PortMiami Deep Dredge Project
Environmental organizations and concerned citizens join together to protect Miami's coral reefs from environmental harm during PortMiami Dredging Project
Miami, FL - On July 16, 2014, Biscayne Bay Waterkeeper, Captain Dan Kipnis, Coral Morphologic, Miami-Dade Reef Guard Association, Sierra Club Miami Group, and Tropical Audubon Society, filed a citizens' notice of suit letter alleging that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers violated the Endangered Species Act, in addition to several permit conditions by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) during the PortMiami Deep Dredge project. In its letter, the environmental coalition identified a long list of violations, including that the Army Corps' contractors are not protecting threatened coral species, allowing excessive amounts of dredge sedimentation buildup on the reefs, not sufficiently monitoring sedimentation, and failing to move dredge ships away from corals that are exhibiting signs of injury or degradation.
“It’s extremely unique to have these corals so close to an urban area like Miami,” says Silverstein. “They’re coastline protection that’s critical for the city, especially with all the flooding in Miami.”
‘“They were allowed to go out and see what was left over,” said Rachel Silverstein, the executive director of Biscayne Bay Waterkeeper, which brought the original lawsuit to protect corals in Government Cut. “We realized that there is a lot still there. And we realized how much the permit was missing in terms of mitigation and how much reef will be destroyed by this dredging.”’
“A lab just off Florida’s Miami River has become the base for an unusual lifesaving operation.
A group of scientists there is on an urgent mission to save as many corals as it can before the marine creatures are destroyed as part of an underwater excavation of Miami’s shipping channel. The channel — set to be dredged and deepened on Saturday — is home to a thriving coral reef.”