Secret Strategy: U.S. Army Corps of Engineers May Want to Turn Cleveland Population into Mutants

click to enlarge Senator Robert Kelly (Bruce Davison) was a major proponent of the Mutant Registration Act. -
Senator Robert Kelly (Bruce Davison) was a major proponent of the Mutant Registration Act.
The Plain Dealer reported Friday (though it appeared in Monday morning's paper) that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the agency responsible for dredging the Cuyahoga River and safely disposing of the waste, intentionally sought to diminish its budget to achieve its ends.

But what are those ends? It frightens Scene to inquire.

The USACE, after all, has fought repeatedly to dump toxic sludge generated from their dredging directly into Lake Erie, thereby contaminating the local water supply.

That idea has been resisted, "vehemently and successfully," by just about everyone under the sun, including the Ohio EPA. Everyone thinks that the most obvious solution is just to keep doing what they have been doing: dumping waste into confined disposal facilities. 

Both Ohio Senators Sherrod Brown and Rob Portman are now in "open war" with the USACE, the PD said, and are demanding the agency use its own flexible account to cover costs for safe disposal of the sludge.  

Money is required, they say, because Congress allocated a lot less money to the USACE this year at the agency's request:  

The only reason Congress in December didn't allocate more money for the harbor's dredging, the senators said, is because the Corps quietly went to congressional appropriators and slyly asked for a lower amount — at least $2 million less than was needed and $3.6 million less than even the White House had sought for Cleveland Harbor dredging. Ohio lawmakers didn't notice the change until after the bill, a 2,200-page spending measure for 2016 that Congress rushed through at year's end, had passed.

By seeking and getting less money, Portman and Brown contend, the Corps could cry poor when time comes this year to do the work.  

In an editorial published Sunday, the PD laid into the Engineers for their sleazy, deceptive maneuvers, saying that with a reduced budget, they can now "shake down" the state:

"Either Ohio and its taxpayers pony up the cost to place the PCB-laden muck in a confined disposal facility, or the Army Corps will dump carcinogenic sediment dredged from the Cuyahoga River navigational channel into Lake Erie," the editorial said.

The USACE's Buffalo District spokesman Bruce Sanders told the PD that the reduced budget — it's at $6 million this year, reduced from about $9.5 million last year — is still ample funding to dredge the river and repair breakwaters and survey the harbor. 

It's unclear how that math checks out. Sanders didn't pick up his phone when we called twice Monday; nor did his colleague Andy Kornacki.

[UPDATE: Sanders responded by email with a prepared statement, presumably very similar to the comments he gave the PD, saying that Congress allocates money for the "least-cost environmentally acceptable method of placement."

"Should a partner have a preferred method of disposal that is more expensive than the least cost, environmentally acceptable method," he wrote, "the Corps of Engineers would be glad to place the material in accordance with the partner's preferred method, however, the partner would need to pay for the increased cost above the Federal Standard."]
Anyway, we think we're on to them. 

It's well known that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers are huge X-Men fans. They're rumored to be Magneto sympathizers as well. The only logical assumption, at this point, is that the "Engineers" are in fact orchestrating a regional campaign to transform Cleveland's tap-water-drinking population into mutants, honoring Magneto's vision and raison while at the same time creating a potentially divisive political issue for 2016: HOW TO HANDLE THE MUTANT (i.e. Cleveland) PROBLEM.

The above is conjectural — though not impossible! — but It's worth noting that if the Great Lakes region doesn't get a handle on its environmental issues in a hurry (algal blooms, lead poisoning, toxic sludge dumping, fracking) the mutant problem may no longer be exclusively a calamity in Comic Books.   

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Sam Allard

Sam Allard is the Senior Writer at Scene, in which capacity he covers politics and power and writes about movies when time permits. He's a graduate of the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University and the NEOMFA at Cleveland State. Prior to joining Scene, he was encamped in Sarajevo, Bosnia, on an...
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