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Tuesday, January 25, 2011 - 10:55am

More Hurdles For Harbor Deepening

Updated: 3 years ago.
River pilots like those guiding this Greek ship up to the Port of Savannah are among those pushing for the harbor deepening. Environmental groups are concerned about the potential long-term effects on wetlands and fish species. (photo RJones0856)

A comment period for the Savannah harbor deepening project ended Tuesday.

But it won't be the last and the project still has several more hurdles.

Will Berson of the Georgia Conservancy says, he would've liked more time to go over the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' 13,000 page report on how the harbor deepening will affect the environment.

His main concern is how the Corps will follow-up after the project begins.

"The assumption that every model is going to turn out to be correct is probably not true," Berson says. "We want to see as much attention put into the post-project as has gone into justifying the project now."

The Corps will take comments into account when it prepares a revised environmental report.

Then the public will get a final comment period.

Savannah river pilot Christopher Yarbrough says, the process already has taken long and jobs are at stake.

"It's been studied for about 12 years and $40 million worth of tax dollars have gone into it and there's been plenty of time for public input."

The report details environmental impacts such as losses to wetlands and fish species.

Once it's finalized, four federal agencies -- including those responsible for the environment and commerce -- have to approve the project before it can begin.

That's if a court doesn't block it.

Some environmental groups already have hinted that they will challenge the final report in court if it doesn't meet their understanding of the law.

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