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Manatee County v. Gorsuch

ELR Citation: 13 ELR 20180
Nos. No. 82-248-Civ-T-GC, 554 F. Supp. 778/18 ERC 2168/(M.D. Fla., 12/22/1982)

The court enjoins the Army Corps of Engineers from the further dumping of any materials at an interim disposal site, Site A, in the Gulf of Mexico. Initially, the court rules that plaintiffs' claims against the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) are not ripe for review since EPA has recently issued a draft environmental impact statement (EIS) on Site A, but has made no final decision on whether to designate Site A as a disposal site.

Next, the court concludes that the administrative record fails to establish that the Corps took the requisite "hard look" at the environmental consequences of dumping at Site A. The court rules that the Corps failed to perform a site-specific survey of the interim disposal site in violation of Title I of the Marine Protection, Research, and Sanctuaries Act (Ocean Dumping Act) and its implementing regulations. In addition, although the Corps prepared a final EIS and supplemental EIS for the Tampa Harbor deepending project, which adequately discussed the general impacts of ocean dumping, the court concludes that the Corps was required under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) to prepare a site-specific EIS for the dumping at Site A. Plaintiffs had established that the effects of dumping at Site A were different from those considered in the existing EIS's. Furthermore, no site-specific studies of Site A were prepared in connection with those EISs and the location of disposal sites was not known at the time that the final EIS was prepared. The Corps also violated NEPA and Ocean Dumping Act regulations by failing to consider the cumulative impacts that dumping of the remaining dredged material would have upon Site A.

The court then rules that the Corps cannot rely upon EPA's designation of Site A as an interim disposal site as justification for its use of the site, since at the time of the designation, EPA knew nothing about the site. In conclusion, the court enjoins defendants from further dumping at Site A, based upon its findings that continued dumping will irreparably damage the ocean environment and that injunctive relief will not irreparably harm defendants.

[The pleadings in this case are summarized at ELR PEND. LIT. 65748 — Ed.]

Counsel for Plaintiffs
William L. Earl
Peeples, Earl, Moore & Blank
One Biscayne Twr., Suite 3636, 2 S. Biscayne Blvd., Miami FL 33131
(305) 358-3000

Counsel for Defendants
Gary Takacs, Ass't U.S. Attorney
500 Zack St., Tampa FL 33602
(813) 228-2941

Lawrence R. Liebesman
Land and Natural Resources Division
Department of Justice, Washington DC 20530
(202) 633-2807

Counsel for Intervenor Tampa Port Authority
T. Terrell Sessums
Albritton, Sessums & McCall
100 Madison St., Tamps FL 33602
(813) 228-7661