"The corps and [its contractor's] continued manipulation, evasion, and total disregard for conditions defined in our settlement agreement and the DEP permit requirements is an affront to the citizens of South Florida," Kipnis said of the study. "ACOE's blatant bullying and suppression of calls by concerned citizens and environmental organizations for transparency and compliance during PortMiami's Deep Dredge project borders on the criminal."
Foord, an expert in corals, said he was shocked by the DEP's photos.
"It is, in fact, far worse than we thought," he said. "State-protected sea fan gorgonians are also being smothered in silt and then subsequently overgrown with cyanobacteria."
Most troubling of all, Foord said, is that summer is corals reproductive period. Instead of a sea swimming with coral larvae, however, the DEP found that dredge silt had killed them all.
"The bigger question now is just how far away this silt extends north of the channel," Foord said. "It is possible that there will be no larval recruitment for miles around the channel.
"The ACOE should be held accountable," he said. "They need to immediately rectify the methods they are using to dredge, abide by the coral monitoring reports, and adhere to the conditions of their permit. If anyone else besides the federal government was causing this much impact to Florida's coral reefs, that individual or group would be facing huge fines and potentially imprisonment. This in conjunction with the fact they simply dumped the legally required 'mitigation reef' boulders directly onto the natural existing coral is a shameful (easily avoidable) act that demonstrates the low levels of professional/scientific conduct the project is operating on.
The DEP study gives the Army Corps two weeks to respond. It ends on a halfway hopeful note: "A fast response to this issue may minimize long-lasting impacts."
Kipnis has a bleaker prognosis.
"If the corps and [its contractor] can stall, hem and haw long enough, they will get the project done," he said. "We will be left holding the bag, as Miami-Dade County ultimately is responsible for the damages and remediation as per the contact agreement between PortMiami and the corps.
"Something is definitely wrong with this system."
Send your tips to the author, or follow him on Twitter @MikeMillerMiami.
Follow Miami New Times on Facebook and Twitter @MiamiNewTimes.