The South Carolina State Ports Authority (SCSPA) has suspended funding for its joint project with the Georgia Ports Authority to build and operate Jasper Ocean Terminal in the US at a cost of $5bn in a 50/50 partnership.

The SCSPA decision follows the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control decision reversing its opposition to allow the US Army Corps of Engineers to deepen the Savannah River near the proposed Jasper port and at Savannah to 48 feet from the present 42 feet.

SCPA chairman Bill Stern said the proposed Savannah River deepening was probably fine when first conceived in 1999, but today’s global shipping environment requires more.

"A 50ft-deep channel has emerged as the minimum standard for the post-Panamax world in other East Coast ports – including New York, Baltimore, Norfolk and Miami – but the Savannah River would fall short even after deepening," he said.

"It’s a bad deal for the taxpayer to spend billions of dollars for a new Jasper Ocean Terminal on a last generation river, that means another deepening project, beyond the one currently being reviewed, would be required."

While suspending SCSPA said an alternative to deepening the Savannah River to the Jasper terminal should be considered along with the deepening project, which extends to the Georgia Ports Authority’s Garden City Terminal.

South Carolina called on Georgia to join in requesting the US Army Corp to consider dredging to the Jasper site as an alternative in the Final Environmental Impact Statement, noting that such a project would cost much less and generate significantly fewer environmental impacts.

The SCPA will also seek to amend the intergovernmental agreement between the states, detailing specific actions required to help the Jasper Ocean Terminal.

Georgia Ports Authority Chairman Alec Poitevint told ajc.com, "We are disappointed by the decision made by the South Carolina State Port Authority today to suspend efforts to advance the Jasper port."