US Army Corps of Engineers to dredge Ohio shipping channel

CLEVELAND (AP) — The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers said it would dredge a Cleveland shipping channel and dump the sediment in a containment facility instead of Lake Erie if Ohio agrees to pay additional disposal costs should the Corps prevail in a pending federal lawsuit over the costs.

The Army Corps issued a statement late Monday about its plans to dredge a six-mile-long shipping channel in the Cuyahoga River, where sediment build-up has caused cargo ships to lighten loads of iron ore pellets on their way to a steel mill. It was first reported by The Cleveland Plain Dealer.

The Ohio Environmental Protection Agency on Tuesday didn’t respond to questions from The Associated Press about whether it agreed with the Army Corps’ plans, which must be approved by U.S. District Judge Donald Nugent. The Ohio EPA and the Port of Cleveland sued the Army Corps last year when it said it would charge the state $1.4 million for disposing of dredged sediments into the containment facility along the Lake Erie shoreline.

The Army Corps has argued that dredged sediments can be safely dumped in the open waters of Lake Erie. The Ohio EPA says the sediments are contaminated by PCBs, a probable carcinogen, and would jeopardize Lake Erie’s ecosystem.

Officials for steelmaker ArcelorMittal recently said in a court filing that the company could be forced to curtail or shut down its blast furnaces without the raw materials needed to produce steel. Lighter loads have caused the steel mill’s inventory of iron ore pellets to reach critically low levels, company officials said.

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