FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Nov. 29, 2011
DHEC Board reiterates support for Savannah Harbor agreement
COLUMBIA, S.C. – The S.C. Board of Health and Environmental Control continues to affirm the resolution recently reached by DHEC staff, the Georgia Ports Authority and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers on the Savannah Harbor Expansion Project, the Board announced today.
“There’s quite a bit of confusion about previous action or stances the Board took on the Savannah Harbor Expansion Project’s 401 Water Quality Certification and its Coastal Consistency Certification,” said DHEC Board chairman Allen Amsler. “The Board simply agreed to hear the appeal on the matter. We didn’t overturn a staff decision or a previous Board decision.
“Before the Board heard the case, the parties resolved the differences that were outlined in documentation from DHEC staff to the Georgia Ports Authority and the Army’s Corps of Engineers in September,” Amsler said. “After hearing about the resolution, and determining that the agency’s concerns had been addressed, we agreed to affirm the resolution.”
Amsler said the Board’s affirmation of the resolution was reached without any outside influence.
“There was absolutely no influence brought to bear upon any Board member in this case, especially in the form of financial payments,” Amsler said. “That suggestion is offensive to a group of people working very hard to protect South Carolina’s resources.”
According to Amsler, other issues mentioned in relation to the proposed project appear to be political in nature and outside the scope of the DHEC Board.
“Despite any preferences that individual Board members might have to see South Carolina ports deepened before the Savannah port is deepened, there is no authority within the Board to force the Corps of Engineers to reprioritize its project list,” Amsler said.
“The Corps expressly stated its intent to proceed with the Savannah Harbor Expansion Project with or without an agreement with South Carolina,” Amsler said. “DHEC staff went above and beyond to bring the parties to the table to gain agreement to protect the state’s resources.”
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