Army Corps Postpones Dredging of
by Scott Learn
The Army Corps of Engineers has bumped dredging of a potentially hazardous bar in Portland Harbor to next summer, saying resolving environmental concerns pushed the project too close to the Oct. 31 deadline for completing in-water work.
Surveys in June indicated that shoaling on the Post Office Bar reaches across two-thirds of the outbound navigation channel, the Corps' Portland office said, increasing the chances of vessels running aground or colliding. The bar, 2 miles up the Willamette from its confluence with the Columbia River, was last dredged in 1989.
The Corps will monitor the area more frequently, and said it could pursue an emergency dredging project before next summer if necessary. The in-water work deadline is designed to protect salmon listed under the Endangered Species Act.
Environmental groups, including the Audubon Society of Portland, focused mainly on plans to deposit the contaminated dredge spoils on West Hayden Island in the Columbia River.
That dispute was settled late last month, when Oregon's Department of Environmental Quality endorsed the dumping.
The Port of Portland, which owns the undeveloped island, wants to build industrial marine terminals there and said it would use the contaminated spoils as fill for future development.
Critics, who favor turning the island into a nature reserve, note that the city is still evaluating whether to allow development.
Bob Sallinger, Audubon's conservation director, said the group will monitor any attempts to conduct emergency action work closely. The delay will also give the Port more time to reconsider the dumping, he said, and Audubon more time to consider a potential lawsuit to stop it.
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