Federal Judge Rules Against Army Corps in Dredging Dispute

click to enlarge The Sam Laud navigates toward ArcelorMittal. - Sam Allard / Scene
Sam Allard / Scene
The Sam Laud navigates toward ArcelorMittal.
U.S. District Court Judge Donald Nugent ruled on Friday against the Army Corps of Engineers in a years-long dispute about the placement of material dredged from the Cuyahoga River.

[You can read all about it here.]

The Army Corps, which performs the annual dredging, has wanted to dispose of the sediment directly into Lake Erie. That method is cheaper than dumping the sludge in confined disposal facilities, but critics like the Ohio EPA and the Port of Cleveland say there is room in the CDFs and that dumping the polluted sediment in the open lake is environmentally unsafe. Judge Nugent agreed.

"The Corps does not have the authority to simply disregard or eliminate any requirements or restrictions it is subject to by statute or by its own properly enacted regulations," Nugent wrote in his decision. "The attempt to do so can indeed be considered arbitrary and capricious, unlawful, and/or in excess of its delegated authority."

The Army Corps was in violation of the law when it delayed its dredging, Nugent wrote, and must now pay for CDF disposal. (The Corps has already done so for 2015, but would have been reimbursed if Nugent ruled in their favor.)

“The Port of Cleveland is pleased with the ruling,” Port President and CEO Will Friedman wrote in an emailed statement to Scene, “which we hope provides final resolution on the law regarding proper disposal of Cuyahoga River sediment.”

Officials from the Ohio EPA and Cuyahoga County were also pleased with the decision.