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Ecology and salmon related articles

Letter: Port Responding

by Al Rissman
The Daily Astorian, August 6, 2005

Four-year process comes to a close this month

Responding to Peter Huhtala's resolution on responsible dredging and disposal ("Port leaders bristle over jibe about polluting," The Daily Astorian, July 20), let me start by stating that I am in agreement with him and associates on LNG and other issues.

Moving on to the resolution, I am opposed to such a resolution and urge the commission not to adopt the resolution.

There are more rules and regulations in the resolution than a lifetime marriage vow. The commissioners agreed to obey the conditions you have listed in your resolution when they took the oath of office. The commissioners should not be bound by any resolution that infringes on their right to question any agency. However, I question some of their policies and regulations.


  1. Restrictions on building a berm on the west side of pier three to deflect the incoming tide back into the channel.
  2. Government dredging not allowed closer to pier headline than 600 feet.
  3. Enhancement fee for dredge spoils.
Getting back to the resolution, you have made a list of six chemicals and metals present in some lower Columbia River sediments including DDT, PCB, arsenic and mercury.

Robert Baumgartner of the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality made one of the most serious charges against the port for procedures it took after small amounts of DDT was found in dredge sediments. I congratulate Baumgartner on a job well done and I will be waiting for the results of the practice of hopper dredges dumping 3,000 yards of contaminated dredge sediments on the ocean floor in a few seconds.

DDT contamination found in dredge sediments created an emergency for the port, putting sediments in holding tanks was the normal procedure.

Sometimes in emergencies, we are not left with many options. A good example took place after the eruption of Mt. St. Helens when lava and mud slides filled the shipping channel. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers had to act fast. Pipeline dredges had started pumping the sediments along the banks of the river. Heavy material stayed along the banks of the river, but a large amount of silt was carried by the river flow to Astoria creating an emergency for the Port of Astoria.

I got the impression no one gave a damn because the political muscle was in Portland.

Today the Port of Astoria is still paying the penalty for conditions created by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. In my opinion, the port has in place the most environmentally friendly way of doing necessary dredging known.

Al Rissman, Astoria
Letter: Port Responding
The Daily Astorian - August 6, 2005

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