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Great Lakes Article:

Method chosen to dredge canal questioned
By Michael Puente

EAST CHICAGO - After months of studying several alternatives, the U.S. Army Corps plans to use a mechanical clamshell method to dredge the contaminated Indiana Harbor and Ship Canal.

The corps announced Friday that mechanical, or clamshell, dredging was chosen from several other alternatives in part because it will result in less volatile impurities becoming airborne.

But some in the city say hydraulic dredging would have been the best method.

They are doing it (the mechanical method) because itís the cheapest way possible. They donít care. None of the people making these decisions live here, they donít send their children to school here,Ē said Colleen Aguirre, a member of the East Chicago Waterway Management Board.

Aguirre is also an outspoken community activist of the placement of the confined disposal facility that will store the contaminated sediment about 800 feet north of East Chicago Central High School.

Nobody is objecting to the dredging, but we only want the best equipment and the latest technology. This is not the latest technology,Ē Aguirre said.

Tim Raykovich, special assistant to Mayor Robert A. Pastrick, also believes the hydraulic method would have been a better approach because it is likely to produce less airborne emissions, which runs contrary to the corps findings.

There are clearly benefits to hydraulic method. We support whatever technology is the best and most cost effective,Ē Raykovich said Friday. The canal needs to be dredged. There is no doubt about that. ... We defer to the corpsí judgment. ... Our preference would have been to use the hydraulic system.

According to the corpsí findings, the mechanical method is $16 million to $27 million less than using the hydraulic method.

The corpsí announcement came Friday in its release of a study examining four possible methods to dredge the federal waterway that has not been cleaned since 1972.

The canalís current state of impurity is considered a threat to Lake Michigan drinking water and makes navigation of cargo ships to companies that line the canal difficult.

According to corps officials, a number of other dredging technologies were considered including hydraulic and special purpose dredging. Dredging could begin in 2005.

The corps and the waterway district will discuss the findings at a meeting at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday at East Chicago City Hall.

The study is available to the public at the East Chicago Public Library, main office, 2401 E. Columbus Drive.

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