Friends of Penobscot Bay President Harlan McLaughlin, on GAC Chemical Corp's role in the push to industrialize upper Penobscot Bay.

By Ronald Huber | Apr 02, 2014

In a recent letter to the Republican Journal, Tony Kulik mentioned the corporations that would benefit most from the "Improvement" dredging project in Searsport.  He could have  added GAC to that list.

GAC owns over 100 acres along the shore in the harbor and has high hopes of renting it out  to other industrial corporations.  Mr Colter mentioned that in a conversation I had with him as we walked along the shore in front of his property discussing the obvious problem of pollution leaching out from behind the berms constructed by court order and intended to stem the flow of toxins,  and he admitted the need to revisit the methods used to keep the legacy waste out of the bay and acknowledged it was his responsibility to do just that.
He promised GAC would get the DEP permits necessary  to remedy the situation.  Well, he forgot to apply for those permits [ we checked with DEP ] but he kept telling us it was in the works.  Now he supports the "improvement " dredging project and we wonder why.  He has no customers lined up waiting to send products through the "improved" port.
There is no back log of products waiting in the shadows.  Like all the other corporate sponsors of this project, he is only hoping that the bigger port will attract customers for his business.  There is no evidence that this will happen.  If there were products waiting to get into  or out of Searsport  they would be shipping them even as we speak.  The demand and market is just not there.
This dredging project  of just under one million cubic yards of material,  supported by corporations like GAC from here to Bangor is divided up into 2 portions.  The dredging necessary to maintain our current shipping lanes  which accounts for only 4% of the total, and the "improvement" dredging which will greatly expand the shipping lanes way beyond what we need and makes up a whopping 96% of the total.
It  calls for  over 900,000 cy of polluted spoils  to be dumped on the prime lobster grounds adjacent to the area.  The silt alone will suffocate everything that isn't fast enough to get away and will linger in the area long enough to discourage them from returning to their former ranges.  We can't afford to risk our lobster industry on speculation.   No one I know is opposed to the "maintenance" dredging, but the "improvement" dredging is another matter.
The Friends of Penobscot Bay is committed to improving the quality of life in the estuary of the upper part of the bay by reducing the pollution dumped into it by companies like GAC.  [ Again, in GAC's case, this is pollution that was produced decades ago by previous owners and dumped into pools on GAC's property reinforced by earthen berms, yards from the intertidal areas.]
As far as Maine DEP records show, GAC is no longer dumping pollution from their current systems into the water.  We compliment them on their new closed system but we chide them for supporting this dredging project without any economic justification.  Increased industrialization of the area will ultimately have a very negative impact on our fisheries.
We have to choose, do we want to keep our lobster industry or do we want to go for what is behind the curtain?
The Friends of Penobscot Bay are against the "improvement" dredging.  It is unnecessary and potentially deadly to our sea food industry. Please come to the Dredging Meeting at the Hutchinson Center in Belfast on 8 Apr. Doors open at noon.  Drop by if you can [and care] and tell the Army Corps of Engineers that you are opposed to the "improvement " dredging and demand an Environmental Impact Study of the project be conducted before any dredging is attempted.
Harlan McLaughlin
Friends of Penobscot Bay
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