Taft expresses concern about dredging
By Tom Henry
Gov. Bob Taft’s office weighed in yesterday on the longstanding
controversy of open-lake disposal of dredged material,
presenting The Blade with a letter in which Mr. Taft conceded
he has concerns about what the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
has been putting back into Lake Erie since 1985.
"I share your distaste for open-lake disposal of
dredged materials," Mr. Taft said in a Feb. 2 letter
to Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm. "For the past
15 years, Ohio has been urging the U.S. Army Corps of
Engineers to identify and pursue alternatives to open
The letter was in response to a Jan. 20 speech Ms. Granholm
delivered to the Michigan Legislature, in which she said
she was appalled by the amount of open-lake disposal that
occurs in Ohio and vowed to fight a similar practice the
Corps is considering for Lake Michigan.
Ms. Granholm characterized the material as contaminated.
She called upon Great Lakes governors to join her in banning
open-lake disposal of all contaminated material.
Mr. Taft stopped short of lending his support for such
an effort because, as he noted in his letter, dumping
anything that fails to meet U.S. Environmental Protection
Agency chemistry limits for such material would be a violation
of federal law.
Ohio does not accuse the Corps of violating federal law,
even though the state takes issue with the practice, Mr.
"The definition of ‘contamination’ and what we do
with sediment is very much at the heart of this contentious
issue," his letter said. "The Corps’ resistance
to our request that they use alternate disposal methods
is based on the fact that the dredge materials slated
for open lake disposal meet testing criteria, which the
Corps interprets to mean that open lake disposal is an
acceptable alternative. We do not agree. Our concern with
open lake disposal is the type of sediment and its impact
on Lake Erie."
Mr. Taft’s letter said that placing dredged material
in such a shallow part of Lake Erie "where it can
be spread by wind and current action is counterproductive
to our efforts to restore this Great Lake."
The Corps tonight is to unveil a number of long-range
alternatives at a public meeting from 7 to 9 p.m. at the
University of Toledo’s Lake Erie Center at Maumee Bay
State Park. The facility is in the northwest corner of
the park, accessible only from Bay Shore Road.