Southport Project (Dormant)
Editor's note: This issue is currently dormant. We will continue monitoring the situation and may take up the issue in the future.
The Southport Development project involves the filling in of 12.28 acres of open water (.2 of which is emergent wetlands, 1.08 acres of which is shallow water habitat, and 3.62 of which is deep water habitat); 3.75 acres of nontidal wetlands; .73 acres of a tidal drainage area; filling in an unspecified amount of floodplain lands with 3 to 4 feet of fill in order to raise the area to above the 100-year floodplain (in fact to raise it to the 200 year floodplain); dredging a 35-acre area within the River to a 40+2 foot depth; impacts to approximately 4600 linear ft of existing shoreline; the permanent loss of 1.08 acres of submerged aquatic vegetation; and having a 116 acre development footprint which will necessarily be on riverside lands and result in the loss of potential terrestrial habitat. The project is being postured as a method for disposing of spoils from the Army Corps’ Delaware deepening proposal. And that explains why the push by PA and the apparent interest of the Army Corps to skew the review and public process to make approval for the project easier.
As part of its overall vision for the Delaware River Deepening project, Pennsylvania conceived of, and advanced the proposed Southport project. The project never recieved full and fair review from the US Army Corps who appreciated the project for providing a much needed rationale for deepening. The Delaware Riverkeeper Network repeatedly expressed our concerns regarding the proposed Southport development project and what appeared to us to be an evolving abuse of process and politics. Our review of the files demonstrated that the Army Corps supported efforts to truncate the environmental review process that should be taking place around this proposal. And so the Delaware Riverkeeper Network urged the Environmental Protection Agency to step in and take the reigns. But they failed to act. In fact, documents on the record showed us that rather than exercising any oversight they instead sought to work in collusion to evade full and fair review of the project. In email from EPA officials to Army Corps officials it is said: “In light of the rash of activity recently from the riverkeeper regarding the Southport project, we are hoping to set up a meeting with you guys to make sure we are on the same page.”
Ultimately, because of its connectivity to the Deepening the Southport project was approved.