Pollution Cleanup Starts on N. Oregon Coast
(Astoria, Oregon) -- A historic ferry that sank last week along the waterfront of Astoria appears to be causing some environmental issues, and the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) along with other organizations will be removing fuel and other pollutants from the vessel on Thursday. (Above: photo courtesy US Coast Guard)
The Tourist No. 2 is a historical landmark on the north Oregon coast and federally recognized as such. It suddenly sank last week at the 6th Street Pier. Witnesses at the scene reported a strong fuel smell, and various local civilian boats responded quickly by trying to contain the spilling fuel on their own. Once the Coast Guard arrived, crews deployed a boom to block the substance from expanding further into the Columbia River.
Now, the Coast Guard has authorized $200,000 to come from the Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund to help clean up the mess. In a statement, the USCG said this fund is set up by the federal government to ensure an immediate response to any such sudden environmental issue and to allow removal of pollutants.
This effort will include stabilization of the vessel so local contractors can begin the clean-up process. Stabilizing the vessel is the first step in refloating the north Oregon coast landmark, which ensures the safety of divers and first responders as they remove some 500 gallons of fuel from the Tourist No. 2.
"We are working closely with our local partners to remove any potential contaminants from the vessel," said Coast Guard Capt. Justin Noggle, the deputy commander of Coast Guard Sector Columbia River, "We are committed to ensuring the safety of our first responders and protection of the environment."
Also in the works is a plan to retrieve the ferry and dispose of it in some manner as yet to be determined. The USCG is working on the details with the owner, local and state agencies.
Built in the 1920's, it served as a ferry across the Columbia River for passengers and vehicles, between the Oregon coast and Washington coast side of the river. It was rendered useless by the construction of the Astoria-Megler Bridge, and then spent a few decades in other areas, including working the Puget Sound near Seattle.
Returned to Astoria in 2016, the new owner and others formed a group to raise funds for the Tourist No. 2's restoration, and some plans were made to turn it into a floating museum and entertainment venue. A lighting system was even installed along with a dance floor.
The photos below by Angi D. Wildt Gallery show the interior a few years ago, before it fell into further disrepair and prior to it being put up for sale.
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