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Dredging project to remove more toxic sediment from Indiana Harbor and Ship Canal

This year’s dredging project conducted by the Army Corps of Engineers aims to remove an additional 200,000 cu. yd. of toxic sediment from the Indiana Harbor and Ship Canal.

According to project updates by Army Corps project manager Natalie Mills during the East Chicago Waterway Management District board meeting Oct.18, the organization’s contractor has already resumed dredging Sept. 30 with employees working at six to seven days a week. The contractor has also signed a five-year contract.

The Army Corps’ goal is to dredge at least 180,000 cu. yd. from the federal channel and 30,000 cu. yd. in another area of the canal at the request of ArcelorMittal.

Dredging has first been started by the organization in the Grand Calumet River. Back in 2012, the river has been considered as one of the most polluted in the country as it contains polychlorinated biphenyl or PCBs.

Since the dredging project has begun, more than a million cubic yards of toxic material has been removed from the East Chicago area. The material is then hydraulically offloaded into a confined disposal facility located at 3500 Indianapolis Blvd.

The dredging and operation of the facility is handled by the partnership of Durocher Marine, a division of Kokosing Construction Co., and O’Brien & Gere. Representatives from both companies were present during the board meeting to answer questions especially about safety measures.

Last month, the Army Corps requested a permit to store highly-contaminated sediments at the facility. However, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has tabled their paperwork. An off-site disposal disposal option is now being studied.

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