A three-judge federal appeals court panel has heard arguments about whether dredging the Delaware River should be allowed to continue. Supporters want a deeper river to accommodate larger ships.
Environmentalists contend not enough is known about the dredge spoils, the earth under the river that will be disturbed when the channel is deepened to 45 feet. Jane Davenport is an attorney for the Delaware Riverkeeper which opposes dredging.
“There are a lot of industries that rely on a clean and healthy Delaware to make money,” said Davenport. “The oystermen on the bay, what happens if the oyster beds go south with all the sediment that is dumped on them? The birding industry out of Cape May. We have the largest accumulation of breeding horseshoe crabs in the entire world and that supports the massive quantities of birds that come through on the Atlantic Flyway.”
The attorney for the Philadelphia Regional Port Authority counters that without deepening the channel, port jobs would be at risk because newer, bigger ships would not be able to come up river. He says that would mean losing businesses to ports with deeper channels.