Riverkeeper Alleges Two Violations Amid Bridge Construction

Oct 8, 2013

Credit Courtesy of Riverkeeper

An environmental group in the Hudson Valley has put the New York State Thruway Authority on notice concerning two alleged violations during construction of the replacement Tappan Zee Bridge.  One allegation involves monitoring an endangered fish species.

Westchester County-based Riverkeeper recently filed a notice of intent to sue the state Thruway Authority, Tappan Zee Constructors, and one of the contractors under the Clean Water Act. Here’s Riverkeeper’s Hudson River Program Director Phillip Musegaas.

He says after dredging in the Hudson River for construction of the new bridge began August 1, Riverkeeper observed the dredge crane operators raising the dredge bucket from the river and pausing, allowing large volumes of turbid water and sediment to drain directly into the river. The bucket was then directed to dump the material into a barge. He says the dredge crane should operate in a continuous motion between the river and the barge.

He adds:

A second alleged violation concerns an endangered fish species.

A spokesman for the New York State Thruway Authority referred comment to the state Department of Environmental Conservation. A statement from a DEC spokesman says, quote, “Riverkeeper ignores the facts and fails to identify any violations of water quality. The Department of Environmental Conservation developed the conditions in its permit to be fully protective of the Hudson River, and the available data confirms that DEC’s permit and monitoring program have been and will continue to be effective in protecting water quality.” End quote. Again, here’s Riverkeeper’s Musegaas.

A DEC spokesman says Riverkeeper was aware the issue was already being addressed.

Musegaas says he’s looking into reports that six dead sturgeon have turned up over the past several months, some close to where the new bridge is being constructed, on both the Rockland County side and Westchester side. He says there is no known link between the bridge’s construction and the dead sturgeon.

In March, the DEC reached an agreement with Riverkeeper and Scenic Hudson after lawyers from both environmental groups had said the terms of a revised draft environmental permit for construction of the bridge was too vague and weak to minimize construction impacts on the Hudson River. The resulting settlement agreement also gave the groups a seat at the table in monitoring the construction.