28 April 2013

Astoria ship recycling venture proposed, port officials say

Previous efforts to develop dismantling operations foundered over safety and environmental concerns

ASTORIA — A company has proposed a shipbreaking operation at the Port of Astoria to cut apart and recycle vessels, members of the port’s governing board revealed before cutting short a public discussion.

The port’s commissioners had a discussion of the proposal on the agenda for a Tuesday meeting, The Daily Astorian reported .

The site is at North Tongue Point, a former military facility that has been proposed before for recycling vessels.

Commissioners said the company approached it with the idea of take ships out of the water to recycle the metal.

“It’s not a project I’m really excited about, personally,” Commissioner Larry Pfund said.

Objections to potential problems such as from hazardous materials used in ship construction have thwarted previous shipbreaking projects in Oregon.

In 1999, when the Division of State Lands owned North Tongue Point, a Seattle company that was leasing part of the waterfront facility prepared it for a potential military ship dismantling operation.

The plans foundered after Sen. Ron Wyden urged the Navy and a federal agency not to award contracts to bidders with significant worker safety and environmental records.

Seven years ago, the state’s economic development agency recruited a shipbreaking operation to Oregon, but under criticism from environmentalists and political rivals, Gov. Ted Kulongoski withdrew the invitation. An aide at the time suggested the state would take another look at a proposal if it involved taking ships out of the water, a more expensive procedure.

The Daily Astorian reported that shipbreaking has boomed recently, taking advantage of the downsizing of older, unprofitable vessels in the hard-hit shipping industry.

But the Port of Astoria commissioners ended public discussion quickly Tuesday.

“I don’t want to talk about it,” said Commissioner Floyd Holcom, reminding other members that the port had a nondisclosure agreement with the company.

Efforts to contact the company identified in commission documents as Portland-based Blue Ocean Environmental were unsuccessful.

Source: register guard.  19 April 2013

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