Durbin, Kirk: Army Corps Will Expedite Process to Demolish Rock Pinnacles

[WASHINGTON, D.C.] – After a meeting with the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works, Jo-Ellen Darcy, U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) and U.S. Senator Mark Kirk (R-IL) announced that the Army Corps of Engineers will expedite the demolition of rock pinnacles that will help keep water and goods moving on the Mississippi River.  Additional Senators attending today’s meeting include, U.S. Senator Senators Roy Blunt (R-MO), Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Tom Harkin (D-IA) and Amy Klobuchar (D-MN).


Because the Army Corps reiterated their position that they are not legally able to release water from the Missouri River, Durbin, Kirk will join with a group of Senators in an effort to gather more information to make the case that releasing the water into the Mississippi River will not harm those upstream. They plan to formally request that the Army Corps provide an analysis of the impact of releasing water in quantities that are sufficient to sustain barge traffic on the Mississippi through April of next year.


“I called this meeting with the Army Corps to make certain we are doing all we can to keep traffic on the Mississippi River moving safely for as long as possible,” said Durbin who also spoke today with Illinois agriculture groups about the river.  “Everyone agreed today on the urgency of the situation.  The first step is to fast-track removal of the rocks that are a barrier to traffic on the river.  Second, at our request, the Army Corps agreed to report back in one week with an analysis of the impact that releasing water would have on both the Missouri River and the Mississippi – information which has yet to be provided.  And finally, severe weather is becoming more frequent and more devastating to people’s lives and our economy.  Congress needs to take a hard look at how we plan for these disasters.”


"We simply cannot afford to have traffic on the Mississippi River stop due to low water levels," said Senator Kirk.  "It's my hope that the Army Corps listens to the bipartisan calls of Senators and Governors and works swiftly to ensure commercial barge traffic is not threatened on this crucial transportation corridor."


According to reports, the Mississippi River could be too shallow for barge traffic between St. Louis and Cairo in two weeks due to decreasing water levels.  The Mississippi River is a critical transportation artery for essential commodities, such as corn, grain and oilseeds, coal, petroleum and other products.  The financial impact of a river shutdown could be far reaching.  On November 16, Durbin and Kirk joined with thirteen other Senators on a letter urging the Army Corps to take immediate action to demolish rock pinnacles that will help keep the water moving and the Mississippi open for business.