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Environment


Army Corps will dump Cleveland sediment in dikes this year only
The Corps looks for other options after Ohio turned down a plan for open dumping in Lake Erie
by WKSU's M.L. SCHULTZE


Web Editor
M.L. Schultze
 
Harbors are dredged so commercial ships can carry sufficient cargo in and out of ports.
Courtesy of NOAA
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The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will begin dredging sediment from the Cleveland Harbor and Cuyahoga River next month. And it will pump the hundreds of thousands of cubic yards of the sediment into a confined area near Burke Lakefront Airport – as it has for decades.

But, as WKSU’s M.L. Schultze reports, the corps calls today’s decision a “one-time occurrence based on unique circumstances.”

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The Army Corps says there is no room to keep using hydraulic pumps each year to transfer more than 200,000 cubic yards of sediment from the harbor and the river into a confined disposal facility. That’s why it wanted to start dumping the untreated sediment into the open Lake Erie. 

The Ohio EPA killed that plan, saying the level of toxins and PCBs in the sludge could pose a risk to food and drinking-water supplies. 

But Will Friedman, head of the Cleveland Port Authority, says there’s a third option that the port is asking the Corps to consider. 

“You have to start putting the material in mechanically as opposed to hydraulically pumping it in because the key is to remove the water. Once the water is removed, then you free up a lot of space for the material and you can kind of stack it up, sort of mound it up in a drier condition.”

Friedman says that would cost more money to engineer the dikes, but could extend their life to as much as 35 years.

The Army Corps did say it may have to consider “a new and possibly more costly approach” in getting rid of the sludge after this year. 

The open-lake dumping was regarded as the cheapest option.

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