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Army Corps of Engineers withdraws approval of plans to dredge Texas Gulf Coast Superfund site for oil tanker traffic

 

The reversal follows a challenge by Earthjustice and community groups alleging flaws in the Corps’ environmental review of Matagorda and Lavaca Bays.

The Army Corps of Engineers has reversed its decision to dredge the Matagorda Bay Ship Channel through a federal Superfund site on the Texas coast midway between Galveston and Corpus Christi.

The withdrawal of the Army’s 2020 ruling, announced in a court filing last week, follows a legal challenge this year by Earthjustice, an environmental nonprofit, and a coalition of community leaders.

The opponents argued that the project—a 27-mile canal expansion designed to bring Suezmax oil tankers to expanded export terminals at Port Calhoun—would stir up mercury and other toxins in Lavaca Bay, off the ship channel. 

Lavaca Bay was designated as a Superfund hazardous waste site in the 1990s after a now-idled Alcoa aluminum and chlor-alkali plant released an estimated 1.2 million pounds of mercury into its waters from 1966 to 1979. 

Following the challenge by Earthjustice, a review by the Corps of Engineers found “discrepancies” in the dredging volumes calculated across its various studies, prompting a revocation of approval for a project that’s been in the works for a decade. 

“It was the most amazing surprise,” said Diane Wilson, a fourth-generation shrimper and oysterwoman who had fought against the project. 

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Published on 1/11/2023 (21 days ago) Oil/Gas