Kelley Speaks with Free Press about Proposed Belfast Bay Dredge Disposal Dump Site

Joseph Kelley, a professor of marine geology in the University of Maine School of Earth and Climate Sciences and Climate Change Institute, spoke with The Free Press about his concerns over the proposal to dump almost a million cubic yards of marine dredge spoils from Searsport Harbor into deep holes on the seafloor near Islesboro. The holes, or pockmarks, are a feature of coastal muddy bays, and scientists know the pockmarks are formed by the release of methane trapped in the marine sediments, but they don’t know what triggers a release of gas, according to the article. Kelley, who has studied pockmarks over the past two decades, said at least one hole he researched in Belfast Bay using a submersible is about 1,000 feet in diameter and more than 120 feet deep. “The pockmarks are very steep sided and have no crater rim, so we were going along over the floor of the bay and then this big black hole opens up right in front of you,” he said. “It’s really something.” Researchers have found the pockmarks have not measurably changed in 10 years, but no tests have been done to determine how the sites will react when filled with dredge spoils, or with anything that creates pressure, the article states. “Using the pockmarks for dumping of dredge spoils is potentially a good idea, but no one knows what will happen,” Kelley said.