The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control reversed a September denial by its staff of a Corps of Engineers proposal to dredge the Savannah River and deepen the river channel to the Port of Savannah.
[The compromise] includes Georgia’s promise to pay for upkeep on devices the Corps will install to inject oxygen into the river, and agreeing to preserve an additional 1,500 acres of marsh.
The board rejected the Southern Environmental Law Center’s request that three environmental groups be allowed to intervene.
All is not peachy, however, between the two states:
S.C. State Sen. Larry Grooms said he’ll push the quasi-governmental Savannah River Maritime Commission, which represents South Carolina’s interests on the river, to challenge the permit at the group’s December meeting. Grooms will also request that the S.C. Department of Natural Resources challenge DHEC’s decision.
Grooms said a proposed port at Jasper, S.C. — not due on line for at least two decades — would be jeopardized by the deepening, even though Jasper lies between Savannah and the ocean. Environmentalists fear any dredging would irreparably harm the river and its ecosystem. The Southern Environmental Law Center and other environmental groups will likely appeal Thursday’s ruling to an S.C. administrative law judge.
Additionally, “[t]he Coastal Conservation League… plans to appeal the agreement to the S.C. Administrative Law Court, arguing in part that the the proposed oxygenation system has not been proved to be effective.”