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Lawmakers Call For Cuyahoga Dredging To Resume, OEPA Yet To Rule

Friday, March 28, 2014 at 2:57 PM

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A ship unloads limestone at the port facility on Whiskey Island. Nick Castele/ideastream

A group of Ohio lawmakers today called for dredging of the Cuyahoga River to resume, even as a flap continues over where to store dredged material. An Army Corps of Engineers plan to move 80% of dredged material into Lake Erie has not been ruled upon by Ohio EPA, but the agency's initial reaction has not been positive. Ideastream’s Tony Ganzer spoke with OEPA spokesman Chris Abbruzzese.

A group of Ohio lawmakers today called for dredging of the Cuyahoga River to resume, even as a flap continues over where to store dredged material.

Senators Sherrod Brown and Rob Portman, along with representatives Bob Gibbs, David Joyce and Marcy Kaptur, said in a statement dredging delays would needlessly harm industries and businesses which rely on the river.  They suggest continuing to store the bulk of material in containers on shore.

A proposal from the Army Corps of Engineers to move about 80% of dredged material into Lake Erie--the rest staying in containers--has not been ruled upon by Ohio EPA yet, but the agency’s initial reaction has not been positive.

Ideastream’s Tony Ganzer spoke about this earlier with OEPA spokesman Chris Abbruzzese.

ABBRUZZESE: “We understand the importance of dredging to keep the federal navigation channel open for commerce, so we will be making a decision on the permit as quickly as we can, because we don’t want to impact or hold up the process.  Ohio EPA continues to evaluate the proposal from the Army Corps but it is clear that we believe that they don’t meet the standards for open lake disposal based on the data they provided us and the standards put forth in the Great Lakes testing manual.”

GANZER: “So the issue right now is whether or not this dredging material is safe yet to put into the lake, is that right?”

ABBRUZZESE: “Correct.  We have a fish advisory already in the lake for PCBs and we don’t want to see any more going into the lake.”

GANZER: “Do we have a timeline on this?  It looks like the lawmakers say this needs to happen now, how long can we expect this process to go?”

ABBRUZZESE: “We’re evaluating the proposal, and, like I said, we will be making a decision very quickly, because do not want to negatively impact or hold up the permitting process.”

GANZER: “So, weeks not months, is that fair to say?”

ABBRUZZESE: “Yes.”

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Economy, Environment

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