Savannah dredging clears final environmental hurdle

  • South Carolina Savannah River Maritime Commission approves lawsuit settlement

The Savannah Harbor Expansion Project (SHEP) moved a step closer this week following the decision of the South Carolina Savannah River Maritime Commission to approve the settlement of a lawsuit it, along with three environmental, had issued in opposition of the project.

The settlement will see the Georgia Ports Authority (GPA) and a number of other state entities provide as much as US$35 million towards projects that will mitigate the environmental impact of the project. The GPA will also allocate 2,000 acres of salt marsh to help protect the river’s marine wildlife, according to the JOC.

The tentative settlement, still subject to the approval of both the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control and the Army Corps, also stipulates that the Army Corps must establish monitoring stations on the Savannah River to measure water quality.

The settlement follows a lawsuit filed in 2007 by the Maritime Commission, the DHEC and the South Carolina Coastal Conservation League, Savannah Riverkeeper, and South Carolina Wildlife Federation.

Earlier this month, the GPA announced that the additional $50 million requested by Governor Nathan Deal towards the SHEP had been approved by the state legislature.

Along with previous funding, the state of Georgia has now allocated a total of $231.1 million towards the project, which is expected to cost in the region of $652 million. Deepening the Savannah Harbor from 42 to 47 feet will help to accommodate an influx of super-sized container vessels transiting the Panama Canal after its 2015 expansion.

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