USA: Groups Sue Corps Over Savannah River Dredging Project

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers failed to obtain a South Carolina pollution control permit for its controversial project to deepen the Savannah River, according to a lawsuit filed in state court by the Southern Environmental Law Center on behalf of Georgia and South Carolina conservation groups.

This project cannot proceed until and unless the Corps obtains a South Carolina Pollution Control Act permit that guarantees the right of citizens to review the proposal and reduce its serious impacts on the Savannah River,” said Chris DeScherer, senior attorney, Southern Environmental Law Center.

The federal government cannot ignore South Carolina’s process to protect the health of the state’s natural resources and its residents against the risks and harm of deepening. As it stands now, the Corps proposes to dredge up potentially toxic pollutants, dump spoils in South Carolina, and damage the river so badly it needs mechanical life support that the government’s own experts say could be lethal,” stated DeScherer.

According to the claim filed in state circuit court in Jasper County, the Corps failed to obtain a permit that would ensure the implementation of pollution controls during its 38-mile deepening project as required by South Carolina law.

The $650 million deepening project will deplete the Savannah River’s dissolved oxygen levels so much that the Corps proposes to put the river on untested mechanical life support—called Speece cones—for perpetuity, according to the claim.

Attorneys from the Southern Environmental Law Center filed claim in state court on behalf of the Savannah Riverkeeper, based in Augusta, as well as the Coastal Conservation League and the South Carolina Wildlife Federation.

Dredging Today Staff, February 5, 2012;

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