Debate over Searsport harbor project set to come to head | News

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Debate over Searsport harbor project set to come to head

SEARSPORT, Maine (NEWS CENTER) --- A controversial dredging project on the midcoast will be the focus of a public meeting in Bangor next week.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is working with the state on a plan to dredge Searsport Harbor. The project calls for lowering the harbor floor from 35 to 40 feet in some places.

Several environmental groups oppose the plan. They say the dredging will disturb sea life and release years of industrial elements on the harbor floor.

Supporters say the project is needed for safe passage of ships.

"40 feet is what they {the army corps} deem necessary to handle just the existing traffic," said David Cole who is with the group 'Action Committee of 50, "The existing ships coming in and out of that handle traffic safely and efficiently."

"Expansion dredging should only be done if you have a real market for it," said Ron Huber who is with environmental advocacy group, 'Friends of Penobscot Bay,' "Here they don't have a real market for it."

Environmental groups say they want to see further studies from the army corps before any permits are granted. Supporters of the project say that's simply a ploy to delay it further.

The public hearing will begin at 6:00 p.m. Monday night at the Cross Insurance Center in Bangor.