Lake Erie battle on sediment dumping heating up

Posted at 9:44 PM, Mar 01, 2016
and last updated 2016-03-01 23:36:54-05

The Army Corps of Engineers visited Cleveland to explain why it believes it's safe to dump sediment containing PCB's into Lake Erie.

The sediment annually taken from the Cuyahoga River, to open it back up to shipping, has traditionally been dumped in an area where it can't get into the water supply.

But now the Army Corps wants to dump the sediment into the lake, putting out information at a public meeting that the PCB's in the sediment would not have a negative impact on the environment or the supply of fish taken from the lake.

Army Corps Deputy Engineer David Romano told that its decision was based on scientific research and that the Corps is simply following federal guidelines.

"It's really following the federal guidelines that the Corps of Engineers is given,' said Romano. "They're guidelines, it's not our option to follow them."

However the Ohio EPA, Cuyahoga County, The City of Cleveland and the Port of Cleveland disagreed.

All believe the sediment would have a negative impact on Lake Erie, and they based their conclusion on the same Ohio EPA research that was being referenced by the Army Corps.

Port of Cleveland Executive Director Will Friedman told the Corps interpretation of the research was wrong, and the agency was simply not being flexible.

"They make a rule and they want to hang onto that rule, and they can't see past that rule," said Friedman. "I think that's unfortunate in this case, and sometimes we have to go to the courts to resolve those situations."

Last year the Port Authority took the Army Corps to federal court and won, preventing the sediment from being dumped into the lake.  Friedman said this will likely happen again.