The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers are scheduled to begin dredging of the Indiana Harbour and Ship Canal on September 4, i.e., in six week time, East Chicago Community news site informs.
The dredging project, which encompasses removal of 400,000 cubic yards of polluted sediment from the waterways on annual basis, comes after 40 years without dredging, that is, since 1972 when the U.S. passed a law, banning disposal of the dredged material into the Lake Michigan.
It is said, that much of the contamination embodies an immediate outcome of previous industrial activity in the area. Based on the Corps studies, up to 200,000 cubic yards of contaminated sediment, predominantly lead and chromium, end up in the Lake Michigan every year.
According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency the residue contains 362 toxic and cancer-causing substances, which if dumped into the lake, would harm the animal species and pose danger to the local residents.
Therefore, a solution had to be found for the dredging material to be permanently removed from the canal. With this 30-year, USD 150 million dredging project, the sediments will be transported to the restricted disposal facility on Indianapolis Boulevard, which covers 186 acres of a former Sinclair Oil refinery. It will hold nearly 26 million cubic yards of sediment.
The Army Corps awarded the contract for the dredging portion of the project last September.
Before the project is ready to kick off the local stakeholders are doing everything possible so as to make sure that the dredging activities do not hamper regular traffic.
“We want to make sure everything is up and running before the dredging begins,” Herbie Cruz, director of the city’s Emergency Management Agency pointed out.
Having in mind that drawbridges across the canal at Dickey Road and Indianapolis Boulevard are crossed by over 50,000 vehicles on daily basis, followed by the fact that the bridges would have to be raised over a dozen times a day so as to enable for barges transporting the sediment to pass through, the authorities are ensuring that emergency vehicles and school buses still have access to all parts of the city throughout the day.
Dredging Today Staff, July 23, 2012; Image: usace