STATE transport officials in Maine are confident that the development of an ocean cargo terminal at Sears Island in the US state will go ahead. Others still see hurdles to the state Department of Transport's decade-old plans, despite environmental groups' objections being pushed aside, and wonder where the box traffic will be found. John DeVillars, US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regional chief, ruled last week that an alternative site proposed by environmentalists was too small for the new seaport project. 'It takes one more hurdle out of our way,' Brian Nutter, state DOT project manager, said of Mr DeVillars' ruling. Mr Nutter said the DOT would announce its choice among 12 proposed wharf configurations within a week. That is expected to be a US$48.3 million option known as D-2.1(A), a 1,500-foot by 230-foot solid fill structure linked to Sears Island by two bridges. Environmentalists seeking to protect Sears Island and adjacent tidelands proposed expansion of an existing cargo terminal at Mack Point, across the bay from the island. Radicals have threatened a 'small war' to stop the Sears Island development. Mr Nutter said state officials were frustrated that plan to preserve 700 acres of Sears Island as wilderness had not been accepted as mitigation for loss of some 300 acres of marsh and bay bottom, but federal regulators must agree to mitigation before permits are issued. Marketing studies by Aroostook Railroad forecast that 120,000 tonnes of cargo, including 92,600 containers, would cross a Sears Island dock each year. 'The vast majority of the port would be used for container transfer,' E.A. Mchon, the company's president, said. Breakbulk cargoes - largely for Maine's wood and paper industry - were also planned. Mr Michon said four steamship companies 'said they would use Sears Island' to transfer containers to Canada and US Midwest markets. But Colin Pease, vice-president of Guilford Transportation Industries of Billerica, a B&A competitor, said East Coast ports were under-used as ocean carriers rationalised routes. He said GTI planned an inter-modal service to Maine.