Port dredging meets with growing opposition

06:13 PM PDT on Thursday, August 30, 2007

Dredging plan meet opposition
SEATTLE – A plan by the Port of Seattle to bury contaminated silt in Elliott Bay is meeting growing opposition from environmental groups.

It’s called in-water disposal and it has the blessing of federal agencies.

The Port of Seattle has big plans for a waterway in Seattle’s industrial waterfront. But before they can build a new cargo ship terminal there, they’ll need to make the channel that now serves cruise liners deeper to accommodate big container ships.

Some of the dredged material they pull up will be contaminated with toxic PCBs.

“The material that will be dredged up will be disposed of at an open water disposal site here in Elliott Bay,” said Wayne Grotheer, Port of Seattle.

They want to move contaminated silt from one part of the bay to another and they have the permits to do it.

A dozen groups, including Friends of the Earth, have now joined forces to fight the plan.

“The Army Corps of Engineers just gave the Port of Seattle permission to dump 8 pounds of PCBs back into Elliott Bay without any upland disposal, which is something we’re actively appealing right now,” said Fred Felleman, Friends of the Earth.

But in-water storage of contaminated silt is not uncommon in Puget Sound. In each case, agencies choose a place they feel is safe for storage. They will dig a hole to bury the sediment.

After the dredging operation, they have two kinds of sediment: the contaminated sediment with PCBs and the clean sediment. They dump the contaminated stuff in the hoe first, then cover it with the clean.

Both sides like the idea of removing contaminated silt from a waterfront currently packed with eager salmon fishermen.

The Port says its in-water relocation plan is safe, fast and less expensive.

The opposition groups say it wastes a golden opportunity to rid Puget Sound forever of one more source of contamination.

The dredging is scheduled for next year and has been approved by federal and state agencies.

~ by fredfelleman on August 31, 2007.

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