Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Dredging Near Portland Oregon Port Delayed Until 2011

The Army Corps of Engineers has decided to postpone dredging a Willamette River bar that could threaten vessels transiting to two Port of Portland terminals until next summer.

Army Corps officials said that the postponement was due to the lengthy process for obtaining the necessary environmental documents and an impending Oct. 31 deadline to complete in-water work. Oregon state fish regulations bar in-water work in the area from the start of November until July to allow salmon migration.

The bar, located about two miles south of the Columbia River and Willamette River confluence, currently stretches across two-thirds of the navigation channel, according to the Army Corps. Concerns have been raised that vessels could run aground on the bar or cause accidents trying to avoid it. The bar was last dredged in 1989.

The Army Corps said that despite the delay, it would continue to monitor the bar closely and may implement an emergency dredging project before next summer if the situation calls for it.

Two bulk/breakbulk terminals at the Port of Portland sit just south of the bar on the Willamette River. The bar does not affect the port’s remaining two terminals. A third bulk terminal is along the Willamette River, but north of the bar, and the port's lone container terminal sits along the Columbia River just east of the two river's confluence.