A U.S. appeals court is being asked to stop work on a $360 million dredging project on the Delaware River amid concerns from environmentalists and the state of New Jersey.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is deepening the river from 40 to 45 feet to accommodate larger commercial ships expected with the expansion of the Panama Canal. Ports in New York and Baltimore have deepened their shipping channels.

Port officials in Philadelphia say the project is needed to stay competitive and keep vital jobs in the area.

Environmentalists fear the sediment being stirred up could be toxic, polluting the river and harming the fish population. Opponents also say the Corps failed to get required permits and public comments.

The judges did not say when they would rule.

(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)