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Shippers say they need the Cleveland shipping channels dredged, soon
Carriers say Ohio EPA's decision should not affect the schedule

Web Editor
M.L. Schultze
The carriers say they lose capacity when the silt builds up in the harbor and Cuyahoga River over the winter.
Courtesy of Port of Cleveland
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Dumping tons of sediment from Cleveland Harbor and the Cuyahoga River out into Lake Erie is no longer an option – at least for this year. But, as WKSU’s M.L. Schultze reports, the dredged material will still have to go somewhere.

LISTEN: Need for an open port

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For 40 years, the Army Corps of Engineers has been dredging the shipping channels and piling the sediment into disposal facilities, dikes like the one at Burke Lakefront Airport.

It had proposed a change this year, saying the toxic levels of the silt had dropped enough that the untreated material could be dumped in the lake.

But the Ohio EPA has vetoed that, saying the material could be a danger to fish and drinking water supplies.

Glen Nekvasil of the Great Lakes Carriers Association says the carriers have no stance on the options. But regardless, he says, the shipping channels must be cleared of the silt that builds up every winter.

Ships that are working that river, they lose about 100 tons of cargo for each inch of draft they have to give up. And especially here in the spring, your often losing feet, not inches. We have a lot of companies that rely on the materials that move on that river. The iron ore keeps ArcelorMittal going; there are a number of companies that get limestone and they serve the construction industry, we deliver cement and we also ship salt out of Cleveland.”

The dredging usually begins in May. 

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