Posted by: reefrescue | August 8, 2011

Environmental battle brews over Port Everglades dredging plan

August 07, 2011|By David Fleshler, Sun Sentinel

An environmental fight is brewing over plans by Port Everglades to blast and dredge a deeper entrance channel to accommodate the super freighters that are beginning to dominate the world’s trade routes.

The $321 million project would deepen the channel to 50 feet from 42 feet, and make other improvements to safely accommodate bigger ships. It would have a dramatic impact on one of the region’s busiest economic engines, a port for cruise ships, cargo ships and petroleum tankers that accounts for 10,000 jobs in direct employment and helps diversify a tourism-dependent economy.

But several state and federal environmental agencies say it could also have a dramatic impact on coral reefs, sea grass and endangered species.

The National Marine Fisheries Service said the destruction of 15 acres of coral reef along the entrance channel would constitute impact on an “unprecedented scale” and threatened to take the issue to the White House Council on Environmental Quality if its concerns were not adequately addressed.

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