Friday, September 5, 2014

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Environmentalists to sue Army Corps of Engineers over Miami dredge

Last week environmentalists said they are prepared to sue the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers after researchers found the PortMiami dredging project is burying coral and could destroy the surrounding marine ecosystem for years to come.

"All we're asking for is that they follow state and federal law and they're simply not doing that," said Rachel Silverstein, executive director of the Biscayne Bay Waterkeeper, a local eco-advocacy group.

The dredge started in June and is expected to continue for another year. It is part of nearly $2 billion of infrastructure work the port has undertaken to attract the super sized Post-Panamax ships once the expanded Panama Canal completed.

"The situation is worsened by the fact that the (ocean floor) is now covered with a layer of sediment that will prohibit (future coral) settlement and attachment," the Florida Department of Environmental Protection wrote this month in a letter to the Army Corps. Coral is a stationary animal that slowly grows for decades on sea floors and is a key component of ocean habitats.

A spokeswoman for the Army Corps, Susan Jackson, emailed Reuters that the Corps is finalizing its response to the FDEP and will submit it this week.

Environmental groups who tried to block the dredge during its planning phase sent a warning letter to the Army Corps in July asking them to fix the issues — the first step before the groups can file a lawsuit in the hope of convincing a judge to force contractors to protect the surrounding area.

"We haven't seen much effort to remedy the situation," Silverstein said.

For more of the Yahoo Reuters story:

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