A Delaware judge ruled Thursday the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers can continue to dredge the Delaware River. The corps is leading the effort to deepen the river channel to allow for bigger boats.
The corps estimates dredging along 102 miles of the river will result in 16 million cubic yards of sediment. They have seven federally owned disposal sites to take care of the debris.
Maya Van Rossum, the Delaware Riverkeeper, opposes deepening. She said the corps sites are not large enough to handle dredging material.
Van Rossum said some of the communities where the material will taken will be aesthetically ruined. “The army corps would have to raise the size of the levees that hold back those spoils, in some cases 100, 150 percent higher than they are today,” said Van Rossum. “So it dramatically impacts those local communities.”
Corps spokesman Richard Pearsall said the sites will have to expand up, but not out, and regulations prevent the dikes from reaching higher than 80 feet.
Van Rossum along with several other environmental organizations claim the corps is not complying with federal and state environmental laws. The groups will file an appeal to challenge District Judge Sue L. Robinson’s decision.
Pearsall said any concerns about toxins or contaminants should have already been put to rest. “We studied it and studied it and studied it again and concluded that there are no significant issues in terms of toxins,” he said. “As we do this project we are constantly monitoring sampling to make sure that that’s the case.”
The goal is to deepen the shipping channel from 40 feet to 45 feet to allow for the passage of larger ships and commerce.
Another lawsuit brought by the state of New Jersey is still pending in Trenton. That judge gave the parties until Dec. 3 to settle or he will rule.
Reedy Point South
New Jersey Locations
Fort Mifflin; The Corps said this location may be used and only for rock storage