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Ohio sues Army Corps over plans to dump toxic dredged material into Lake Erie

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CLEVELAND — Ohio sued the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers on Tuesday over the federal agency's plan to charge the state $1.4 million to dispose toxic sediment dredged from Cleveland Harbor and the Cuyahoga River into containment facilities rather than Lake Erie.

The lawsuit said that the corps' dredging proposal for 2015, which calls for dumping sediment in Lake Erie off the Cleveland coastline, violates state laws and the federal Clean Water Act and that the cost of containment facilities is the federal government's responsibility.

It noted that the corps for the last 40 years put dredged material into containment areas to prevent PCBs and other toxins from contaminating the lake, and said the corps now won't dredge the last mile of the river's 6-mile-long navigation channel unless an outside party pays the cost of keeping sediment out of the lake.

"The Corps' decision attempts to force the state to use its resources to pay for costs the federal government should cover," Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine said in a statement.

PHOTO: FILE - In this May 20, 2005 file photo, an ore carrier negotiates the Cuyahoga River past the Arcelor Mittal Steel mills in Cleveland. The state of Ohio filed a federal lawsuit Tuesday, April 7, 2015, against the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers over its plan to dump toxic sediments from the dredging of Cleveland Harbor and the Cuyahoga River into Lake Erie unless the state pays the Corps $1.4 million for the added cost of disposing materials in confined disposal facilities. (AP Photo/Mark Duncan, File)
FILE - In this May 20, 2005 file photo, an ore carrier negotiates the Cuyahoga River past the Arcelor Mittal Steel mills in Cleveland. The state of Ohio filed a federal lawsuit Tuesday, April 7, 2015, against the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers over its plan to dump toxic sediments from the dredging of Cleveland Harbor and the Cuyahoga River into Lake Erie unless the state pays the Corps $1.4 million for the added cost of disposing materials in confined disposal facilities. (AP Photo/Mark Duncan, File)

Corps officials could not be reached for comment.

The lawsuit is part of a long-running dispute between the state and the corps.

Dredging the river and harbor each year allows ships to deliver materials to factories and businesses. But in the dredging process, toxic material from industrial operations of years past is stirred up.

About 80 percent of the dredging is done in the river channel; the rest occurs along the Lake Erie shoreline, which figures into the travel and tourism industry along Ohio's shoreline counties.

Last year, the corps proposed dumping dredged sediment into the lake, arguing that the practice would be cheaper and that the river is no longer contaminated, which the state disputes.

The lawsuit seeks to stop the corps from dumping into Lake Erie unless it conducts an environmental impact study and receives authorization from the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency and the Ohio Department of Natural Resources.

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