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Newfane moving sediment dredged from Olcott Harbor to compost area

OLCOTT – The Town of Newfane is in the process of moving dredged sediment culled from around the town marina in Olcott Harbor this past winter to the town’s Phillips Road compost area.

Some residents have questioned the move, but Supervisor Timothy Horanburg said it is all being done with approval from the state Department of Environmental Conservation.

“We spent $40,000 to sample it all and gave the results to the DEC,” he said. “The DEC determined how the sediment should be disposed. We had a DEC permit to place the dredged sediment in a hole we dug in the upper parking lot of the town marina and we did that. There’s nothing in there that’s toxic. We are doing everything by permit.”

Horanburg said the town later decided it made better sense to move the sediment from the parking lot, where it was to be paved over, to its compost area.

“We’re going to make a berm out of it and grass it over,” he said.

“We got another permit from the DEC to move the sediment, once it had been dewatered, or dried out. The dirt we took out to dig the hole in the upper lot would go right back into the hole we made.”

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers was awarded some of the $60.4 billion earmarked by Congress for response, recovery and mitigation costs related to Hurricane Sandy to dredge harbors nationwide last year, including Olcott, Wilson and Oak Orchard in Orleans County.

After extensive testing and permitting procedures, the Corps completed its dredging work last fall in all three harbors. Wilson and Newfane then expanded dredging in Wilson and Olcott harbors.

The Newfane Town Board approved a $178,200 bid to J-Way Southern Inc., of Avon, Ohio, on Nov. 25 to continue the dredging work that the Corps began around the town marina in Olcott Harbor.

Olcott is designated a federal harbor only between its piers, meaning anything beyond that is the town’s responsibility. The town’s Department of Public Works dug a pit in the marina’s upper parking lot to deposit the silt collected in the later dredging. While the silt dredged between the Olcott piers qualified for “open-lake disposal,” the DEC determined that the silt tested inside the harbor should be buried, as it showed traces of pesticides.

“We had only one sample that showed pesticides from run-off from farmers’ fields,” said Horanburg. “Canisius College just did a study of Olcott and their sediment sampling showed nothing toxic at all. In fact, we’re trying to get this area declassified, from the harbor to Burt Dam.”

Prior to this recent dredging, the harbor had not been dredged in 30 years. The long-overdue dredging was necessary to clear the way for boats to reach the town’s marina, which lies in shallower water and has been more choked with silt than the harbor’s two other marinas.