Grant will help remove Sandy’s mess in Portsmouth

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PORTSMOUTH — More than 10 tons of marine debris left behind by Superstorm Sandy in Portsmouth in 2012 will be removed thanks to a grant received by the R.I. Department of Environmental Management (DEM).

The department has received $250,000 through an agreement with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to assess, remove and dispose of disaster debris located in and around Narragansett Bay as a result of the storm.

On Oct. 30, 2012, Superstorm Sandy inflicted severe damage in Rhode Island to communities and coastal resources in Bristol, Kent, Newport and Washington counties, leaving a swath of destruction and large amounts of debris in its waters and marshes.

Although some of the debris was removed by the state, municipalities and volunteer organizations, a large amount of debris remains in hard-to-reach places and in sensitive areas in and around Narragansett Bay and Block Island Sound. The debris includes items such as docks, pilings, derelict vessels, and other trash.

The grant will be used to clean up the following local areas:

• Prudence and Patience islands (part of the Narragansett Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve)— 10 tons of pilings, docks, derelict vessels, timber, construction debris and storage tanks

• Common Fence Point — about a quarter ton of vessel and miscellaneous debris

The money will also be used on cleanups in Jamestown, Charlestown, South Kingstown and Block Island.

“This funding will enable the state to remove debris left in the wake of Superstorm Sandy from Rhode Island’s coastline,” said DEM Director Janet Coit. “Narragansett Bay and its harbors and coves are essential habitat for many important fish species including mackerel, scup, hake, flounder, and herring. This project will directly benefit these species by improving the overall ecosystem health of the Bay and its coastal habitat.”

Working in conjunction with the R.I. Department of Administration, DEM will go through a competitive bid process to hire a contractor to complete the proposed project. Ideally, the contractor will be hired by September and then the work can begin in the fall, according to DEM.

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