Savannah port deepening faces a new challenge
The Southern Environmental Law Center has launched another legal salvo against plans to deepen the Savannah River shipping channel, claiming in a suit filed today that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in Savannah has not sought a South Carolina permit needed for the project.
"This project cannot proceed until and unless the Corps obtains a South Carolina Pollution Control Act permit that guarantees the right of citizens to review the proposal and reduce its serious impacts on the Savannah River," said Chris DeScherer, senior attorney at the Southern Environmental Law Center.
"As it stands now, the Corps proposes to dredge up potentially toxic pollutants, dump spoils in South Carolina, and damage the river so badly it needs mechanical life support that the government's own experts say could be lethal."
The suit was filed on behalf of the Savannah Riverkeeper, based in Augusta, as well as the Charleston-based Coastal Conservation League and the South Carolina Wildlife Federation.
The legal action comes on top of two challenges that were previously filed, challenging the state Department of Health and Environmental Control board's decision to certify that the Savannah deepening project complies with state clean water regulations. The state Legislature has been pursuing legislation aimed at retroactively stripping DHEC of authority to issue that certification.
In South Carolina, opponents to the Savannah deepening project say that, in addition to harming the environment, the work would put the Port of Charleston at a competitive disadvantage.
The Georgia Ports Authority, and the Corps' Savannah office have disagreed, but could not immediately be reached for comment on the new legal filing.
Read more in Saturday's editions of The Post and Courier.