Army Corps Decides to Dredge Cuyahoga River

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By Elizabeth Miller

Following a months-long battle against the State of Ohio and the Port of Cleveland, the U.S Army Corps of Engineers has decided to dredge the Cuyahoga River with one stipulation – that the State pay the cost of dumping the sediment if the Corps wins a lawsuit currently in federal court.

The Corps normally dredges a six-mile stretch of the Cleveland Harbor channel every spring and fall but had not done so yet this year.

In a statement late Monday, the Corps said recent surveys of the channel show a part of the river that could benefit from dredging.  But since the state refuses to allow direct dumping of dredged sediment into Lake Erie, the Corps requests that the state pay the difference for the more-expensive option: dumping the sediment into a confined disposal facility on the shoreline of the lake.

The sediment disposal cost is the subject of a federal court case between the state, the Port, and the Corps.  Judge Donald Nugent has not yet ruled on the case.

The Port of Cleveland’s Jade Davis says the state should not have to pay for the cost of the confined disposal and hopes the case is resolved soon. “We are happy they’re talking, looking to get this issue resolved for 2016,” said Davis.

“However, we do know we could be right back in this same predicament in 2017. That is what worries us.”

Last month, ArcelorMittal Cleveland filed a motion in the case, warning that if the harbor is not dredged this year, the steel manufacturer may have to idle its operations.  Davis says ArcelorMittal increased public perception of how the dredging issue may affect jobs at the plant.

“The threat of that business raised some eyebrows with a lot of people in the community that this issue was much bigger than environmental and economical but a regional issue,” said Davis.

 

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