Groups attempt to halt port expansion

Posted: Friday, April 04, 2008

ANCHORAGE - Three groups are working together in an effort to halt the massive Port of Anchorage expansion.

Cook Inletkeeper, the Alaska Center for the Environment, and Alaska Public Interest Research Group are trying to get the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to revoke a key permit it issued last August that allows the $700 million project to move forward.

The groups accuse the corps of using bad information to reach its decision. They are being represented by the environmental law firm Trustees for Alaska.

The project at the city-owned port involves building a 1.5-mile-long wall of steel in Knik Arm and then backfilling it with gravel and sand to provide a base for port operations. It will more than double the size of the existing port.

The plan calls for filling in 135 acres of Knik Arm.

About 75 percent of Alaska goods come through the port, according to port director and former Gov. Bill Sheffield, and the expansion is intended to handle growth for decades to come.

In a 45-page document sent to corps headquarters, the advocacy groups say the corps used faulty reasoning and inaccurate, unreliable or biased data when it issued the permit allowing a large stretch of Knik Arm to be filled in. They want the corps to take another look, as provided for in what's known as the federal Data Quality Act.

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