COLUMBIA — A South Carolina regulatory panel is set to decide this week on whether to issue a permit for a dredging project that could mean big business for neighboring Georgia.

The State newspaper reports that the Department of Health and Environmental Control board is scheduled to vote Thursday on a proposal to dredge and deepen the Savannah River.

That would allow larger ships to reach the port of Savannah, which is working on a $600 million expansion project.

But environmental groups say the dredging would threaten a rare freshwater marsh and a protected sturgeon species that lives in the water.

Their opposition is shared by some business leaders who say Charleston Harbor is more naturally suited to bigger ships.

Georgia officials say the project will benefit both states’ economies.