Win-Win Fund Pays for Oysters, Bottom Clean Up
The challenge was how to achieve “win-win” for the health of the river and the health of the port economy, when APM Terminals (parent company, Maersk) planned to dredge 10 million cubic yards of the healthiest part of the Elizabeth River bottom.
The answer: APM Terminals agreed to offset these large impacts on the Mainstem of the river by setting aside enough funds to pay for restoring the health of the river’s most severely contaminated sediments, a few miles away.
Thus was born The Living River Restoration Trust, which received $5.2 million last June from APM Terminals for two projects: to clean up sediment contamination at Money Point; and to construct two acres of native oyster reefs in the river.
The Elizabeth River Project, under contract to carry out the projects for the Trust, actually constructed a 13-acre oyster reef on May 31 -- the largest reef to be constructed yet in the Elizabeth River. More than six times the acreage specified in the APM Terminals permit, the reef was established alongside Hospital Point at the mouth of Scott’s Creek. The larger acreage was accomplished by spreading the shell in a thin blanket along the river bottom to create a large area of centralized habitat.
The Elizabeth River Project, the US Army Corps of Engineers and the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality negotiated the formation of the Trust as the first “in-lieu fee” fund in the country that is government sanctioned to achieve “mitigation” of impacts to a river bottom through off-site cleanup of contaminated sediments.
Map of Hospital Point Shell Plant
Barge shoots shells at Hospital Point
Building oyster reefs. Joe Reiger, Money Point project manager, and Majorie Mayfield Jackson, Elizabeth River Project's executive director.
Permits from the Corps and DEQ for APM Terminals to begin work on its large new port facility stipulated the mitigation funds for the Trust, an independent organization with its own seven-member Board of Trustees. Under terms of an Operating Agreement, the Corps and DEQ must authorize all expenditures of Trust funds for mitigation projects.
Currently the Trust is contracting with The Elizabeth River Project to manage the two projects for which the APM funds were provided: the cleanup at Money Point and the oyster reef.
The Elizabeth River Project has been raising additional funds for the complex planning and community involvement which must take place before the off-shore project can be implemented at Money Point, including the revitalization of the Money Point shoreline by industries and residents to prevent re-contamination.