Thursday, April 24, 2014

Army Corps scuttles plans to dump 180,000 cubic yards of contaminated dredge into Lake Erie

In a move that already has environmentalists happy the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has backed away from plans to dump contaminated material dredged from the lower Cuyahoga River and into the open waters of Lake Erie.

Led in large part by the Ohio Environmental Council - a non-governmental organization that serves as an environmental pit-bull guard dog - the plan met a huge profile of strong resistance. This effort was directed at both the Corps and dump supporters.

Up to 180,000 cubic yards of dredged spoils was to have found its way onto the clay bottom of Lake Erie had the plan gone forward.

The Environmental Council says the scraped plans was a "win-win" situation, both for Northeast Ohio's economy as well as the health of Lake Erie.

Likewise, notes the Environmental Council, the Corps was further slammed last week when the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency squashed the required permit the federal government needed to proceed with the dredging and the dumping.

"We thank the Army Corps along with the Ohio EPA in making the correct and really, the only, decision that will help protect Lake Erie," said the Environmental Council's staff attorney, Nathan Johnson.

The river's shipping channel will remain open even as Lake Erie's fishes and the public's source of drinking water are protected, Johnson also said.

"What this does is show that commerce, recreation and a healthy environment can co-exist," Johnson said. "This is a good result, and the Kasich Administration forged it all when it insisted that it would not allow toxic-laced wastes to be dumped into the open waters of our great lake."

As a result of the pull-back on dumping dredge spoil into Lake Erie the material will now go to an approved landfill, a suggestion first put forth by the Ohio EPA, said Johnson.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn


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