Kakays in Matagorda Bay protesting dredging
Diane Wilson, 4th generation fisher from Seadrift, Texas has begun the 29th day of her hunger strike to call attention to the dredging of the Matagorda and Lavaca Bay ship channel which will disrupt plans for a fishing cooperative planned for the Texas coastal area. Wilson hopes to stop the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACOE) from widening and deepening the maritime channel in the bay to accommodate large tankers reaching a proposed crude oil export terminal at Port O’Connor, at the head of the bay. The export terminal is owned by Max Midstream, a pipeline company seeking foreign markets for fracked oil from west Texas. Earthworks and other environmental organizations have been supporting Wilson’s hunger strike and held a recent rally and ‘kayakaton’ in the bay to support and call attention to her efforts. The USACOE conducted an Environmental Impact Statement in 2009, for a LNG project that was never built, with much more rigorous standards for the disposal of the 14 million tons of dredged materials. In the waning days of the Trump Administration, the USACOE pursued an expedited approval process for the crude oil depot. The newly approved disposal plan involves dumping the dredged materials on oyster beds and recreational beaches. The Matagorda and Lavaca Bay Foundations have written Commander Timothy Vail of the USACOE Galveston Office a detailed letter explaining why the Corp’s expedited approval process will do serious harm to the ecology of Matagorda Bay. They are asking for the USACOE to pause the project and conduct a new Environmental Impact Study before allowing the dredging of the ship channel. Diane Wilson points out, “The dredging of this ship channel will also impact an EPA Superfund site, with deposits of mercury from a now closed Alcoa plant. The dredging will stir up the mercury and make it difficult to market or eat fish caught in the bay. This will also hurt our efforts to develop a fishing cooperative in the area.” Diane Wilson urges her supporters to write or call the USACOE in Galveston and Washington, D.C. to stop the Matagorda Bay dredging project.