The transformation of State Pier into an offshore wind facility exclusive of other uses has been part of conversations at Connecticut Port Authority meetings for months, but a permit application made public yesterday from the Army Corps of Engineers specifies the continuing support of break bulk cargo operations.
“The purpose of this project is to create infrastructure in Connecticut that will serve as a long-term, regional wind turbine generator (WTG) port facility while at the same time continuing to support other existing long term break bulk operations for steel, coil steel, lumber, copper billets, as well as other cargo,” stated the Connecticut Port Authority permit application with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, New England District, for work in the Thames River at State Pier.
On Tuesday, the Army Corps opened the public commentary period for the application, which will remain open until Sept. 3.
Diane Ray, Senior Project Manager for New England District’s Regulatory Division, said the port authority specifically included break bulk operations in the permit application.
“That’s the way the application was filled out by them to me and I’ve asked the question a couple of times because I’ve heard rumors that maybe it is or it isn’t. As far as they keep telling me, they are going to use State Pier as it’s being used now,” said Ray.
Multiple types of operations are part of the Connecticut Port Authority’s long term vision for State Pier, especially during quiet periods between offshore wind projects, said David Kooris, acting chair of the Connecticut Port Authority, in an email.
“The proposed construction project is designed to maximize utilization of the facility for the coming decades. We expect that the long-term operations of the facility will accommodate a broad range of cargo types,” he wrote.
After project completion, Ørsted/Eversource, also known as Northeast Energy Offshore or NEO, will lease the pier for 10 years and will position the facility as a premier staging and assembly port for offshore wind, Kooris said.
“As we’ve said consistently, there will likely be times during that period when NEO will not utilize the facility to its full capacity. At those times, we will work with them and Gateway to market the facility for other cargo,” he said. “Regarding the permit application specifically, given that offshore wind activities will take place at the reconstructed facility for the 10-17 years after it opens and given that break bulk operations will occur there long after as well as between wind campaigns, we describe the facility as being designed to accommodate both over the long-term.”
The two-phase, proposed infrastructure improvement project includes “demolition activities, fill between the two existing piers, onshore site work and in-water activities in the Thames River,” according to Sally Rigione, Spokesperson for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, New England District, in a release.
During the public comment period, the Corps is soliciting comments from “members of the public, federal, state, local agencies, Indian Tribes and other interested parties to consider and evaluate the impacts of this proposed activity,” she said.
The public notice is available for review here. Public comments can be mailed no later than Sept. 3 to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, New England District, 696 Virginia Road, Attn: Diane Ray, Regulatory Division, Concord, MA 01742 or by email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Please reference file # NAE-2018-02161.