The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers wants a federal judge to toss a lawsuit that says a $650 million deepening of the Savannah River shipping channel needs a South Carolina pollution permit.
The Georgia ports want the channel deepened to handle larger ships that will call when the Panama Canal is deepened.
Conservation groups on both sides of the river have sued saying a pollution permit is needed because toxic cadmium from river silt will be dumped on the South Carolina shore.
In a response filed Monday, the corps said it's too early to sue; that a water quality permit has already been issued; and the plaintiffs lack standing because there is no actual or imminent harm to them. The corps says the deepening is at least a year away.