Port of Miami

"This is exactly what we fear if the Army Corps is permitted to deepen and widen the Lake Worth Lagoon and Inlet." - Lisa Interlandi, Everglades Law Center

The $205 million dredge project to deepen Port Miami has spread a blanket of silt and clay over the bay bottom that is smothering coral and damaging sea life, state environmental inspectors have found.

In a letter Monday, the state Department of Environmental Protection warned the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which is managing the project, that work is violating state permits, churning up too much sediment and having a “profound effect” on the sea floor. The agency gave the Corps two weeks to respond.

Late Tuesday, the Corps said it was still reviewing the letter and will adapt work based on findings.

“The Corps’ goal is to meet the congressionally mandated mission to improve the infrastructure at the port in the most environmentally and economically sustainable way,” a statement said. “To date, we have relocated approximately 1,000 healthy corals from the edge of the channel prior to dredging and are placing hard limerock substrate which will become more than nine acres of coral reef.”

Last month the state sent divers to inspect the area around the dredge after regular weekly reports showed sediment building up, said Danielle Irwin, deputy director of DEP’s Division of Water Resource Management. County officials had also raised concerns, she said. Environmentalists have long worried, saying two years of blasting and digging could wipe out coral, sea grass and other sea life.
Read more (Miami Herald)