CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP) — A federal judge has scheduled a hearing to formally settle lawsuits challenging the $650 million deepening of the Savannah River shipping channel.
A tentative settlement was reached last month and U.S. District Judge Richard Gergel is slated to hold a hearing next Wednesday in Charleston.
Environmental groups and a South Carolina agency sued last year, contending deepening the 32-mile shipping channel will dredge up toxic cadmium.
Under the settlement, the Army Corps of Engineers would have to perform more mitigation, the Georgia Ports Authority would provide more than $25 million in conservation efforts and transfer 2,000 acres of salt marsh to South Carolina.
The plaintiffs could go back to court if tests of equipment designed to replenish oxygen in the water do not work.
SAVANNAH, Ga. (AP) — Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed says a $652 million plan to deepen the shipping channel to Savannah's seaport remains very much on President Barack Obama's radar.
Reed urged Savannah business and political leaders at a luncheon Thursday to be patient after the president's 2014 budget request last month contained far less money for the harbor expansion than the Georgia Ports Authority hoped to see.
Reed, a Democrat, has helped push the port project with the White House and noted he spent several hours with Obama when he visited Atlanta last weekend. The mayor says the president brought up the Savannah port on his own at a private gathering.
Georgia Ports Authority chief Curtis Foltz says he hopes initial construction can start this year using $231 million the state has already appropriated.
SETH BORENSTEIN, AP Science WriterAssociated Press
May 23, 2013 | 192 views | 0 | 3 | |
In this Aug. 30, 2012 file photo, residents evacuate their flooded neighborhood in LaPlace, La. as Hurricane Isaac staggered toward central Louisiana, its weakening winds driving storm surge into portions of the coast and the River Parishes between New Orleans and Baton Rouge. Federal forecasters are predicting yet another busy hurricane season. The outlook on Thursday, May 23, 2013 calls for 13 to 20 named storms, 7 to 11 that strengthen into hurricanes and 3 to 6 that become major hurricanes. The prediction by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is more than what’s considered an average Atlantic season. (AP Photo/Eric Gay, File)
COLLEGE PARK, Md. (AP) — Get ready for another busy hurricane season, maybe unusually wild, federal forecasters say.
Their prediction Thursday calls for 13 to 20 named Atlantic storms, 7 to 11 that strengthen into hurricanes and 3 to 6 that become major hurricanes.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said there is a 70 percent chance that this year will be more active than an average hurricane season.
If you live in hurricane prone areas along the Atlantic Ocean or Gulf of Mexico coasts, "This is your warning," acting NOAA administrator Kathryn Sullivan said.
A normal year has 12 named storms, 6 hurricanes and 3 major storms with winds over 110 mph.
Last year was the third-busiest on record with 19 named storms. Ten became hurricanes and were two major storms. That included Sandy, which caused $50 billion in damage even though it lost hurricane status when it made landfall in New Jersey.
All the factors that go into hurricane forecasts are pointing to an active season, or extremely active one, said lead forecaster Gerry Bell of the Climate Prediction Center.
Those factors include: warmer than average ocean waters that provide fuel for storms, a multi-decade pattern of increased hurricane activity, the lack of an El Nino warming of the central Pacific Ocean, and an active pattern of storm systems coming off west Africa.
The Atlantic hurricane season goes through about 25 to 40 year cycles of high activity and low activity. The high activity period started around 1995, Sullivan said.
The forecasts don't include where storms might land, if any place. Despite the formation of more hurricanes recently, the last time a major hurricane made landfall in the United States was Wilma in 2005. That seven-year stretch is the longest on record.
The six-month season starts June 1. Forecasters name tropical storms when their top winds reach 39 mph; hurricanes have maximum winds of at least 74 mph.
This year's names: Andrea, Barry, Chantal, Dorian, Erin, Fernand, Gabrielle, Humberto, Ingrid, Jerry, Karen, Lorenzo, Melissa, Nestor, Olga, Pablo, Rebekah, Sebastien, Tanya, Van and Wendy.