Newport Port Manager Kevin Greenwood says dredging to accommodate larger log ships transporting raw timber to the Orient could be complete in late September or early October.
Greenwood told his port commission Tuesday evening that the National Marine Fisheries Service has completed it’s biological assessment of the magnitude of environmental impact deeper dredging would cause near the new International Terminal in order to handle bigger logging ships.
Greenwood said the assessment is being reviewed by the federal Environmental Protection Agency and the Army Corps of Engineers – the corps doing the actual dredging. Greenwood said those reviews should be complete and permits issued in time for the dredging to begin in the second or third week of September.
But a new wrinkle emerged during those discussions – a wrinkle that could amount to a rather large cost overrun in creating the enhanced aquatic habitat behind the Oregon Coast Aquarium, thereby offsetting the loss next to the terminal. However, further discussions indicated that cost savings connected with the timing and set up for dredging operations could amount to upwards of $300,000, thereby cancelling out those extra expenses.
Meanwhile, as News Lincoln County reported to you last week, Teevin Brothers will not be building their multi-million dollar log export handling yard just east of the terminal this year due to the delay in getting permits for the dredging.
The Teevin Brothers’ team noted in a letter to the port that although there has been a marked slow-down in China’s log purchasing, it has nothing to do with the delay in building their log yard. It’s strictly due to the delay in dredging. They also say it doesn’t weaken their commitment to building the log yard or continuing to be an economic partner with the Port of Newport.
In recent communiques with the port, another log exporting firm, Alcan Timber, said it was setting up a log handling yard on some industrial properties south of Toledo. They said they would be amenable to loading ships half-full to accommodate the currently shallow depths around the terminal. But port officials say Alcan has not recently contacted the port over such matters.