Ship Pulled Off
COLUMBIA CITY, Ore. - A big cargo ship was freed from a Columbia River sand bar, hours after being grounded there Monday.
The "Hanjin Beijing" was on its way from the Port of Portland, headed toward the Pacific Ocean and ultimately Japan, when it apparently ran aground on sand and a soft bottom a few miles downstream, near Columbia City and St. Helens.
The 872-foot container ship was carrying a full load of cargo. It got stuck near the side of the main ship channel, so other ships were able to get by it while tug boats work to try to pull it off the bottom. At about 5 p.m. Monday they succeeded, and the Hanjin Beijing was on its way again.
The Port of Portland and the Coast Guard are trying to dredge the Columbia to make the bottom deeper, allowing for easier passage of loaded cargo ships, but the dredging has gone slowly due to lack of funding, permit and bureacratic delays and some opposition. It's not clear whether a deeper river would have prevented Monday's grounding, but an investigation into the mishap is already underway.
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