Dredging is well under way on the Delaware River, but even as the controversy continues so does the digging.
The machine used in the dredging is referred to as a giant vacuum cleaner with a huge tiller blade and it’s caused a giant dispute between the US Army Corp of Engineers and the states of New Jersey and Delaware.
The states question the safety and need to deepen the river, especially since the 4-mile pipeline sends the suctioned materials to land on both sides of the river. But the dump sites are federally owned, and the Corps insists the $300-million project is necessary so barges can continue to make their way up and down the Delaware River.
“Why we’re deepening the river is to allow for more efficient transport of those materials upriver, reducing the costs to the region and the costs of goods,” Anthony DePasquale of the Corps said.
According to DePasquale, $30-million has been spent on safety testing and studies.
However, Delaware and New Jersey officials aren’t the only ones who question the safety of this project, so do local environmentalists.
“This river has been heavily polluted for many decades; it’s been used as a sewer ever since the founding of Philadelphia,” Alan Muller of Green Delaware said.
As for the $30-million spent on studies Muller is among those who say, “All of the past reports have shown the Corps has cooked the books and that, in fact, it has not been a cost effective project.”
In the end, it will take the federal courts to settle this dispute on the river, but in the meantime, the dredging continues. Another dig that bothers opponents who say this project should stop until final rulings and appeals are made.