Army Corps says it isn’t required to dredge Cleveland harbor

CLEVELAND (AP) — The federal agency that takes care of shipping channels along Lake Erie still maintains that it isn’t legally required to dredge Cleveland’s harbor.

The Plain Dealer in Cleveland reports ( ) the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers filed court documents saying there is no mandate that is must dredge.

The Corps and Ohio’s environmental agency have been locked in a legal battle about where the sediment from Cleveland’s harbor can be disposed.

The Corps says the sediment isn’t toxic and can be dumped in the lake, but the state argues the sediment is polluted and should go into a containment dike.

Dredging this year on the Cuyahoga River shipping channel didn’t begin until November, after the Corps reached an agreement with Ohio regulators in the long-running dispute over costs.

Port of Cleveland spokesman Jade Davis said the Army Corps made the same arguments last year, and they were rejected by a federal judge.

The Army Corps delayed the $3.7 million dredging project this year until Nov. 14. A pump on an excavator-mounted barge broke down Dec. 9, in what Army Corps construction branch chief Matthew Snyder described as “a pretty significant breakdown.” He said it must be rebuilt before dredging of the remaining five miles of shipping channel can resume.

Davis said the Corps brought on problems by delaying dredging for nearly a year.

“We don’t have as much ship traffic during the winter, but if we have a lot of snowfall and precipitation we could see a lot more sediment building up in the spring,” Davis said.