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Navy Can Resume Dredging if It Rebuilds Beaches

February 12, 1998| From Associated Press

SAN DIEGO — In a legal settlement with the California Coastal Commission, the Navy will resume dredging a navigational channel for nuclear aircraft carriers stationed at San Diego Bay in exchange for rebuilding local beaches.

The Navy, ignoring the commission's objections, walked away from the beach rebuilding effort last year after it discovered that the sand it was dredging was contaminated with live military ammunition.

Instead, the Navy began dumping the tainted sand in the ocean to keep the dredging project on schedule and within budget.

U.S. District Judge Jeffrey T. Miller barred the Navy last month from finishing the $59-million project unless it negotiated a solution with the Coastal Commission.

Miller lifted the injunction this week after a settlement was announced. The Navy can now resume work on the condition that it rebuild beaches.

"This is a victory that doesn't come at the cost of either public safety or environmental protections. It's the win-win that we've been seeking," said Coastal Commissioner Christine Kehoe, who is also a San Diego city councilwoman.

"With the ferocious El Nino-driven storms that we've been getting, it's more important than ever that we have sand on our beaches," she said.

A deepened, 1 1/2-mile long navigation channel in San Diego Bay and south of the harbor's mouth is needed for a nuclear aircraft carrier arriving in August. Eventually, three of the carriers will be stationed in San Diego.

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