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Great Lakes Article:

Taft expresses concern about dredging plan
By Tom Henry
Toledo Blade
02/12/04


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 lake disposal."

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. Taft said.

"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.

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