Hearing Monday in Asian Carp suit against feds

Asian carp
This early Dec. 2009 photo shows Illinois River silver carp jump out of the water after being disturbed by sounds of watercraft. Many fear that the Asian carp, which can reach 4 feet long and weigh up to 100 pounds, will wreak havoc, not by attacking native fish, but starving them out by gobbling up plankton.
AP Photo/Illinois River Biological Station via the Detroit free Press, Nerissa Michaels

Five states Monday will ask a federal court to close Chicago area shipping gates to block the path of Asian carp to the Great Lakes.

The Illinois River is infested with Asian carp, a fish that can grow to enormous size, and leap from the water when startled -- occasionally injuring boaters. John Sellek with the Michigan Attorney General's office said the goal is to close two shipping gates along with other measures.

"What we're hoping is that the judge will say, will agree with us, Minnesota, Michigan and the other states, and say, 'yeah, we do need to close these gates down," Sellek said. "We do need to get a handle on what's going on."

Mark Biel with the Chemical Industry Council of Illinois said commercial shipping operations would be forced to shut down should the locks close. Shippers say the locks carry $16 billion worth of commodities a year.

Biel also said the locks also carry storm water.

"If the locks were closed the first heavy rainfall in the city of Chicago you're going to have massive flooding," Biel said.

Judge Robert Dow Jr. has scheduled two additional days of hearings on the case next week.

Defendants in the suit include the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

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