Thursday, March 25, 2010

Dredging of the Delaware River

by Jonathan Madden

In the news recently a hot topic of interest centers on the Delaware River and the surrounding states the river travels through. Many officials are pushing for a dredging project to deepen the shipping lanes for boat traffic.

Many feel that this dredging project is absolutely needed, especially because of how it effects ports on the Delaware River to Philadelphia. The channel right now is 40 feet deep yet needs to be made deeper to support today's bigger oceanic cargo ships. Without the channel being deepened to support larger cargo ships, ports on the Delaware River would be the only remaining ports that couldn't support the larger ships, which many fear could divert business to other reports.

Yet this push is sending many peoples including environmentalists and scientists into a tizzy. Many fear the environmental ramifications the underwater digging may have on the river ecosystem. The mud extracted from the bottom of the river would unleash many toxins deposited there form years upon years of boat traffic through the river.

Officials who are pushing for the dredging project claim to have access to safe places in which the dug up toxic mud can be stored. According to an article in the Star Ledger, "Delaware River dredging causes environmental, economic worries", Governor Jon Corzine and the Pennsylvania government secured a deal in 2007 to store the toxic mud in abandoned PA coal mines in a project costing 379 million dollars.

I feel that in these economic times, there's little else we can do but to side with the arguments made by the officials who continue to stress the importance of digging the Delaware River channel deeper. As things remain now, boats carrying lots of goods are being diverted to other ports which could yield an extremely adverse effect on the tri-state economy. But I also feel that it is as equally important to recognize the risks of undertaking such a feat, where it is even more important to make sure the toxins are responsibly taken care of in teh safest manner possible. Years of pollutants mixed into the channel floor being dug up could eb very detrimental to the surrounding ecosystem and to that of where the waste is being deposited. Before any action is taken, it is important to make sure whether or not the mines in which tghey are planning to polace the toxins wouldn't allow any waste products to infect teh existing surrounding ecosystem.

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