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The East Hampton Star. (East Hampton, N.Y.) 1885-current, September 01, 1977, Image 8

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EIGHT THE EAST HAMPTON STAR, EAST HAMPTON, N.Y., SEPTEMBER 1, 1977 The Springs Phyllis Reed 267-8424 John Forest celebrated his 80th birthday at a party last week at the home of his son-in-law and daughter, Mr. and Mrs. Melvin Bennett. The Accabonac Chapter of the American Association of Retired Per­ sons will meet Sept. 8 in the Presby­ terian Church Hall. Representatives of the Long Island Chapter of the New York Diabetic Association will lead a discussion. Mr. and Mrs. John Owens and their daughter Janet of Bolingbrook, 111., were guests last week of Mr. and Mrs. Robert Talmage, Fireplace Road. Mrs. Owens is the former Susan Talmage. On Tuesday, David Talmage left for Norwich University in Vermont. Ann Stanwell and Emily Cobb, Old Stone Highway, were in Washington, D.C., Tuesday. Yvonne and William Tarr, Fireplace Road, held an “end of summer” party last Friday. AQUACULTURE Continued from Page 1 Dr. Newman’s thesis, in the course of which they made him perform his calculations aloud all over again. At such times the hearing, which was held in the basement of the Town Marine Museum in Amagansett before a siz­ able audience, began to resemble a class in elementary biology or chemis­ try—especially so when the professor noticed that Dr. Valenti and Mr. Parker were whispering to each other while he was talking. Attention “You’re not paying attention,” he scolded. Mr. Parker said he was paying attention. “What did I just say?” Dr. Newman demanded. The lawyer fell silent, while others in the audience tittered and chuckled. During their cross-examination of Dr. Newman, however, Mr. Parker and Dr. Valenti repeatedly forced him to admit that he had never actually gone to Gardiner’s Bay and seen the site of the cages he was discussing or studied currents and other conditions there. They suggested that the fish excre­ ment would easily be dispersed and consumed naturally in such a large body of water. Earlier in the hearing, when he was himself cross-examined by Mr. Esseks, Dr. Valenti had asserted that 88,000 pounds of fish “is absolutely nothing in terms of quantity and what it’s going to do to the water\ when compared to the amount of fish that was in the Bay anyway. One Man’s Fish . . . Other organisms would “use” the fish excrement, Dr. Valenti told Dr. Newman. “Your assumption that it’s just going to go”—here he made a moist smacking sound with his lips— “plop in the water is totally wrong.” A Hearing On The Proposed Aquaculture Project August 26, 1977 i \ ] l^ iv d L “What might be effluent for one organism,” Mr. Parker added, “is food for another.” Dr. Newman replied that he was \not saying it’s going to hurt other organisms except where it reduces the dissolved oxygen.” Mr. Parker inquired whether the “purpose” of tidal wetlands was not to consume such things as fish excrement. “Nothing in our universe has any purpose!” the professor impatiently rejoined. “Everything is done by chance or through blind economic self- interest. . . I can’t reason like a tidal wetlands.” Research Another point that Mr. Parker brought out in cross-examining Dr. Newman was that his calculations were based on research two of his students had done on the excrement of men­ haden. Dr. Valenti Dr. Valenti pointed out that men­ haden ate algae, while the striped bass and blowfish he proposed to raise were carnivores. “It’s a dangerous game, especially for someone who’s not a marine biologist, to state that our fish Mr. Larkin are going to produce what menhaden produce,” he said. “I think excrement is excrement,” Dr. Newman replied, “whether it’s dog, cat, fish, human, or insect. The cellular metabolism is the same. The cellular products are the same.” If anything, he said, the “organics” in carnivores’ excrement would be “even higher,” because there would be “less cellulose.” And he did also have a degree in marine biology, he said. A more general objection raised by Mr. Parker was that the whole discus­ sion of effluent from the cages was “well afield” of the subject of the hearing, which was whether his client should be granted a well permit and a tidal wetlands permit. “We’re getting involved in objections to the SPDES permit,” he asserted. Third Permit The SPDES (State Pollutant Dis­ charge Elimination System) permit is Mary Kanovitz the third Dr. Valenti needs from the DEC, but it is being handled by a different arm of the Department, the “Division of Pure Waters,” which may schedule a hearing of its own. The Group for America’s South Fork’s statement, signed by its direct­ or, Nancy Goell, and read at the hearing in her absence by Hale Allen, a member of its board, reiterated its “belief that aquaculture is potentially an important industry for our coastal area, compatible with our environment and supportive of our economy and natural resources.” “However,” the statement con­ tinued, “as with any industry, a specific project must be evaluated based upon its location, size, use of resources and impact upon the surrounding environ­ ment.” “In our attempt to assess the impact of the proposed commercial aquacul­ ture project, we have contacted two fishery biologists and a hydrologist, all of whom believe that adequate infor­ mation on the project has not been produced.” Dr. Pinder’s View The hydrologist, Dr. George Pinder of Princeton, who is producing “com­ puter models” of the South Fork’s water table, was said to have “stated his belief that the proposed pumpage of 1,000,000 gallons of saltwater per day will have an impact on the ground water of the site,” and to have “urged that proper assessment of the impact on the ground water be completed through computer analysis before any decision is made concerning this pro­ ject.” One of the biologists, Dr. William Hargis, director of the Virginia Marine Science Institute, was quoted as saying that an environmental impact state­ ment should be required by the DEC; “effluent” from the fish, if not “run through screens,” could cause “stagna­ tion” in the tanks and cages; but “no serious problem” was anticipated from hormones and antibiotics used in raising the fish, “if handled carefully,” nor from any “concentration of disease . . . if handled properly.” The other biologist, David Crestin of the National Marine Fisheries Service, was said to raise (like Dr. Newman) “the possible problem of an increased BOD . . . in the surrounding area if the effluent is not properly treated.” Opposition The Group concluded that the sci­ entists had raised “substantial ques­ tions,” which “should be answered before the permits should issue.” (In a separate letter to the Star, Mrs. Goell described the Group’s stance as “op­ position to the project at this time.”) Replying to several of the Group’s points later in the hearing, Dr. Valenti said that Dr. Pinder’s was “strictly a mathematical model” whose “worthi­ ness still has to be established;” the cages and tanks would not be “subject to stagnation;” and he did not see any point in an environmental impact state­ ment, since environmental questions were being discussed right there at the hearing. Mr. Larkin of the DEC, when it came his turn to speak, added that his agency’s rules required such state­ ments only for much larger projects anyway. The Amagansett Residents Associa­ tion’s statement, delivered by Robert Gold, one of its officers, asserted that “neither our environment nor our fishing economy should be subject to the uncertainties of this kind of experi­ mentation.” If the project failed, Mr. Gold said, nature would not be “so forgiving as a bankruptcy court.” “Pig In a Poke” Similar statements were made by other Amagansett residents, including Mary Ella Richard, a Democratic candidate for Town Supervisor, who described the project as a “pig in a poke with little economic benefit to our Town and possible irreversible damage to our environment that may never be healed.” Mr. Larkin said he was “reasonably satisfied\ that, “subject to appropriate conditions,” Dr. Valenti’s saltwater wells “would not likely have any significant impact on the fresh water resources of the area.” He recommended that the DEC permit construction of the three wells but require a “monitoring program” to establish whether their operation would in fact change the level of the fresh water table and the water’s salinity. This would involve measure­ ments from “at least two observation wells” along the inland side of the project site, the project’s own fresh water supply, and possibly a third observation well on a neighboring property, taken daily for at least a week, and at least once every two weeks for six months thereafter, while the saltwater wells were pumping. Responsibility It would be the responsibility of Dr. Valenti’s Multi Aquaculture Systems company to do the actual testing, and to pay for it, but the DEC would “review the results,” Mr. Larkin ex­ plained. “In the event that the test results indicate that a potentially bad situation is reasonably possible,” he said, “the operation could be ordered to cease, and because of the natural hydro- geological conditions in the area we feel that the pre-existing ground water conditions would return.” He argued that they had returned after the old Smith Meal fish factory just east of the project site, which had pumped con­ siderable amounts of fresh water, shut down in the late ’60s. Dr. Valenti has said he intends to supply his fish tanks with water pumped from Gardiner’s Bay for at least six months of the year, using the wells, whose water would always remain at a temperature of from 52 to 54 degrees, only in winter when the Bay water got too cold. His application to the DEC said he would use them from October to April. Year-Round He changed the application Friday morning, so that he is now seeking permission to use the wells year-round. He also made another change that allows him to move the proposed location of his tanks from the center of the property he proposes to use to its eastern side. Mr. Irving, the hearing examiner, allowed both changes despite objections from several of the project’s opponents, who argued that instead of permitting them half-way through the two-day hearing, when other opponents were no longer pre­ sent, the DEC should stop the hearing and schedule a new one. Mr. Parker explained that his client did not really want to pump year- round. The “only reason” for this change, he said, was “the potential that some people might make objections that might create a difficulty for us” in drawing water from the Bay. “If we can draw water from the Bay we will,” he said. Zoning Questions The other change, Dr. Valenti ex­ plained during an intermission in the hearing, had to do with the zoning of the 5.3-acre property he proposes to use. Its westerly portion, 3.8 acres, is zoned for residential use. East Hampton Town’s zoning allows agriculture in residential areas, and the Town Zoning Board of Appeals last winter granted Dr. Valenti a ruling that aquaculture was a form of agricul­ ture. However, a number of the project’s opponents are suing the ZBA to overturn this ruling. The rest of the property, on the other hand, is zoned commercial- industrial, a classification that permits fish processing among other things. Therefore, Dr. Valenti maintained, if he moved his tanks there, the outcome of the suit would make no difference. He would, he said, be “as secure as a rabbit in a briar patch.” V. Schaffner

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