A commission representing South Carolina's interests in navigational issues on the Savannah River aired its objections to plans by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to deepen the Savannah harbor.
The Savannah River Maritime Commission met Tuesday to begin drafting its formal response to the draft environmental impact statement that the Army Corps released last year for public review and comment.
The commission criticized the plan to deepen the Port of Savannah's harbor to 48 feet from its current 42 feet as leading to a loss of marshes and wildlife habitat, mainly on the South Carolina side of the river, according to the Savannah Morning News.
The paper quoted environmental consultant Michael Sobczak of Malcolm Pirnie as saying the plan was "inconsistent with the federal policy of no net loss of wetlands."
Retired U.S. Coast Guard captain John Cameron, who is now executive director of the Charleston Navigation Company, told the commission the corps' studies suggest to him that a 47-foot channel wouldn't be able to accommodate the large post-Panamax vessels that are expected to call at Savannah after the Panama Canal is deepened.
The South Carolina Commission has until Jan. 25 to formalize its objections to the Savannah River Harbor Expansion Project, as it is called, before the Army Corps issues its final EIS.
Georgia Ports Authority Executive Director Cutis Foltz told The Journal of Commerce late last year that the GPA included all local environmental groups in the 11-year process of getting permits for SHEP. He said he expects to get a "green light" to move ahead with the $550 million to $600 million project by the fourth quarter of this year.
-- Contact Peter T. Leach at firstname.lastname@example.org.