The Port of Newport Commission learned Tuesday evening that ships transporting Oregon logs to China will most likely not bring invasive species of critters or plants to the waters of Yaquina Bay. Oregon Department of Environmental Quality’s Ryan Hoff said that based on the shallowness of Yaquina Bay, and limited turn around areas, the ships that will carry Oregon’s raw logs to China will be smaller and likely be among only three to five specific ships that will visit Yaquina Bay. Teevin Brothers, a Rainier-based export company, told the commission that they are very familiar with the ships they will be contracting with and that they have high confidence that those ships will be properly managed to ensure that bilge water taken on in China will be long gone by the time they arrive in Yaquina Bay. It’s a process called bilge water exchange which takes place far out at sea.
The only discomfort the port commissioners seem to have was that bilge water regulations are currently in a state of flux between Oregon and the Federal Environmental Protection Agency. Hoff told them that state and Coast Guard inspectors are not adequately checking records or testing bilge water of ships arriving in American ports to verify that bilge pumping operations are, in fact, carried out properly. Hoff said, “It’s not that we don’t want to inspect every vessel, but the Coast Guard has a lot of Homeland Security duties they are mandated to pursue and Oregon state government revenue cutbacks make it impossible for me to meet every ship that docks on our shores. I’m pretty much the whole inspection team.” Hoff reiterated that it should provide some comfort for the commission to know that Teevin Brothers has a tight business relationship with the ships expected to haul the logs out of the Port of Newport, and that they know they’re doing it right.
Port Commission Chair JoAnne Barton asked Hoff if Hatfield Marine Science Center might provide some graduate students to learn inspection techniques and protocols so they could inspect incoming vessels if he couldn’t be there himself. He said although HMSC students might be effective at distributing educational materials to captains and crews, the actual taking of samples and documenting records would be problematic since the students would not be sworn officers in charge of what would amount to be “evidence” of record keeping and whether it reflected the true condition of the vessel they were inspecting. “It might not hold up in court,” said Hoff. “In fact, it probably wouldn’t.”
Hoff said it comes down to working closely with the exporting operation, in this case Teevin Brothers, who has a good reputation in the industry. Hoff said it will be a few more years before the federal and state governments adopt new regulations that will eventually require the actual treatment of the bilge water taken on at the last port. In other words, not only bilge water exchange with open ocean water but also using chemicals to ensure that there are no surviving critters or plants in the bilge tanks. Again, that’s a number of years away.
Meanwhile Teevin Brothers told New Lincoln County they hope to have all their equipment and further International Terminal improvements in place in time for log exports to begin near the end of the year. He said the operation will be efficient, clean, and well run with minimal impacts on the surrounding area. They say they’re excited about the Port of Newport coming back on line as an exporting port after a twenty year absence from West Coast commerce. When up and running, the log exports are expected to create around 25 family wage jobs at the port, swelling to 45 when log ships are being loaded.
A rather large crowd packed the room at the Port of Newport meeting last evening as Shawn Teevin, of Teevin Brothers based in Rainier, laid out a plan for jump starting the use of the soon to be completed International Terminal at the east end of Bay Boulevard. Estimates are that log export operations could begin in the first quarter of next year, adding over 25 family wage jobs to the local employment rolls. Even more when ships are being loaded and unloaded.
Port officials said they were gratified by the largely supportive crowd who focused on job creation in the middle of the worst recession in 80 years. There will be heavy truck traffic on the Bay Road from John Moore Road for the short jaunt to the east and down to the International terminal. Truck hours of operation would run five days a week from 6am to 4pm with a maximum frequency of around 6 trucks an hour.
There are concerns that bike lanes have been added to the Bay Road since shipping operations ended years ago posing potential conflicts between heavy trucks and pedestrians, runners and sightseers. It was suggested that the Bay Road should be widened from John Moore to the east, to the International Terminal entrance. However, whether the port or the city of Newport would pay part or all of the costs was not established. Port Commission Chair JoAnn Barton says the port doesn’t have the money for it so they’re asking the city of Newport to foot the bill or find some alternative method of financing it.
However, City Public Works Director Tim Gross said that after meeting with port officials and Teevin Brothers, widening the Bay Road from the Embarcadero shouldn’t be necessary. He said a logging truck every ten minutes on a road designed for industrial traffic is not a major problem. He said that based on the port’s plans for importing recycled paper and cardboard and having trucks transporting it to the GP plant in Toledo to turn it into new paper and cardboard, there will be some increased truck traffic the full length of the Bay Road.
However, Gross said that sometime after the port’s logging operations begin the city will have to address the problem of the geometry of the John Moore Road/Bay Boulevard intersection. He says there is a large storm water problem that needs to be fixed at that intersection. He says they’ll have to tear up the intersection, but that traffic will still be able to get through. He said once the storm drain is fixed and the minor re-alignment of the intersection is complete, then the intersection will be easier for the trucks (and everyone else) to navigate. However, funding for the fix will be up to the city council since it involves a storm drain for which, at the moment, no such funding source exists.
The Port of Newport recently finished gathering together the final financing to complete the International Terminal and now anticipate more than just log exports as its mainstay. Domestic cruise ships, other foreign exports and industrial development are envisioned for the property greatly adding to the local employment base of above average wage jobs.
With the recent announcement that it appears that the Port of Newport now has secured enough financing to largely finish Newport’s International Terminal, the port is accepting various development proposals from leading import and export companies that would like to use the port. Estimated launch of the to-be newly completed facilities is expected sometime after the first of next year.
Therefore, the Port of Newport Board of Commissioners invites everyone to participate in a round table discussion regarding the opportunity for maritime trade through the Port of Newport International Terminal. Port Commissioners would like any and all persons to come and listen to experts from the log and wood products industry and environmental professionals, and join in discussions with them about the cumulative effects of operating a marine cargo facility in our waterfront community; both export as well as import. Monday’s meeting will provide an opportunity for interested persons to direct their questions about log exports to the Port of Newport and to log handling company representatives.
The special meeting of the Port of Newport in a public forum is scheduled for Monday, April 16th, 6pm, Room 140 at the Newport Campus of Oregon Coast Community College.
Directions: From Highway 101 at South Beach, turn east on 40th Street and drive up the hill. Follow the road around to the south and looke for the main entrance to the college.
New Terminal Facilities Will:
Improve port access for commercial fishing boats, link marine commerce and Oregon’s highways and retain and create new jobs and development opportunities.
For more information contact: Port of Newport General Manager Don Mann, 541-265-7758,
Project Website: www.portofnewport.com
Port of Newport Manager Don Mann told his commission Tuesday night that the high hill of dredge spoils near the NOAA docks that piled up to the point it was referred to as “Mt. NOAA” is now down to 30 feet. He said it’s due to that recent earth-moving dump truck wagon train from there to the Newport Airport where the spoils were used as fill for a new construction site there.
Mann said even better news is that another construction company has indicated they want some of the remaining hill, possibly to the point that the top of the pile will be a scant 12 feet above sea level by the end of the year.
Now that the NOAA operations are up and running, and approaching a level that some might consider routine, Newport Port Commissioners are now even more focused on getting their other project, the International Terminal, finished up. And when complete, port officials say it will have a deep water dock and a shallow water dock. The docks will be used for general commercial cargo, cruise ship ports o’ call, commercial fishing support, general commerce, heavy loading and unloading for an array of vessels (including NOAA), and other opportunities not yet explored. Port Manager Don Mann said that they are probing possibilities of a combination grant/loan from the Oregon Department of Business Development as well as a Oregon Connect Four grant award. Sum total is around $3.9 million to finish the terminal.
And when it’s finished, the port has a number of large companies that would like to become partners with the port, among them Teevin Brothers based in Rainier. Shawn Teevin addressed the port commission for a while during this week’s port meeting saying that the Port of Newport is poised for a number of substantial economic opportunities in the export business. Teevin said his family has run a large operation out of Rainier that coordinates log shipments not only overseas, but up and down the west coast by barge. Teevin said if Newport allowed them to become a participant in the port’s future they would launch a very environmentally smart and neighbor friendly operation which could provide the port with a million dollars a year in income, or more. Teevin said they would put the Newport community first, with 22 family wage jobs by hiring local residents – not importing them from outside the area. It would also include more than 20 longshoreman when loading a ship that could produce more full time local longshore jobs as business grows. Their operations, he said, are very up to date, with pre-sorting of logs and storing them properly in an environmentally clean and safe facility. Teevin said they would keep noise to a minimum and that they are committed to being good neighbors. Teevin said it is his company’s long traditional philosophy to donate to worthy community projects and programs and that through such outreach they earn the role of being a true community partner.
As for the viability of the operation, Teevin and others refer to the ports of Astoria and Coos Bay as being frequently backed up with log loads that cause excessive and costly down time as trucks wait to unload onto barges. They say with the Port of Newport rejoining the export family of ports, it could help smooth out port operations for all ports in the northwest and help raise the productivity of log trucking while creating well-paying local jobs.
Port Commissioners thanked Teevin for his company’s interest in the future of the Port of Newport. But they added that before any new operations are launched, the port will hold public meetings to ensure that Newport residents get an accurate picture of what the future holds for port operations along with the costs as well as the economic benefits for the community as a whole. Port Manager Don Mann told News Lincoln County that those meetings are on the near horizon. He said the port should know more sometime this month.