Brown, Portman Urge Army Corps of Engineers to Dredge Cuyahoga River

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sens. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and Rob Portman (R-OH) called on the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to end its irresponsible refusal to dredge the Cuyahoga River shipping channel, putting at risk the 18,000 Ohio jobs that depend on the Port of Cleveland.

“For the past 80 years, the Corps has dredged the Cuyahoga River to allow cargo ships to safely navigate the Cleveland Harbor. However to date, the Corps has refused to dredge the Cuyahoga River for the 2016 shipping season. This is despite the Corps’ own surveys that show significant portions of the river have sediment levels exceeding the congressionally authorized amount,” said the Senators in their letter. “We urge the Corps to dredge the Cuyahoga shipping channel to ensure safe and efficient transport of materials for the rest of the 2016 and early 2017 shipping seasons.”

Full text of the letter is available below.

The Honorable Jo-Ellen Darcy
Assistant Secretary of the Army
Department of the Army, Civil Works
108 Army Pentagon
Washington, DC 20310

Dear Assistant Secretary Darcy;

We write today urging the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to fulfill its responsibility and dredge the Cuyahoga River shipping channel, which has reached sediment levels above the authorized project limits. By refusing to dredge the channel, the Corps is putting at risk the 18,000 jobs that depend on the Port of Cleveland.

For the past 80 years, the Corps has dredged the Cuyahoga River to allow cargo ships to safely navigate the Cleveland Harbor. However to date, the Corps has refused to dredge the Cuyahoga River for the 2016 shipping season. This is despite the Corps’ own surveys that show significant portions of the river have sediment levels exceeding the congressionally authorized amount.

The Corps in April 20, 2016, recognized the shallow depths of the channel and advised vessel operators to use caution on the river. Since that time, sediment build up in the channel has only worsened.

The Corps’ decision not to dredge the ship channel threatens the businesses along the Cuyahoga River that are reliant upon maritime deliveries. High sediment levels have caused ships traveling up the channel to light-load by nearly 20% of their capacity, significantly increasing costs. For example, ArcelorMittal Cleveland, which President Obama visited in 2013 to highlight its important role in supplying steel for the automotive sector, receives 4-5 million tons of iron ore and limestone per year from ships traveling through the channel. Continued failure to dredge the river not only prohibits the ability to increase load amounts in the remaining 2016 shipping season, but also puts Spring 2017 dredging at risk. If ArcelorMittal Cleveland cannot receive the raw materials essential to its operations, the jobs of the more than 1,800 employees at the site will be at risk.

Annual dredging of the Cuyahoga River is essential for commercial cargo ships to safely navigate the Cleveland Harbor. It is imperative that the Cleveland Harbor remain accessible for commerce. We urge the Corps to dredge the Cuyahoga shipping channel to ensure safe and efficient transport of materials for the rest of the 2016 and early 2017 shipping seasons.

We look forward to your prompt response.

Sincerely,

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