Seattle port removing contaminated sediment
05:34 PM PDT on Thursday, October 16, 2008

Video: Port of Seattle agrees to dispose of contaminated sediment
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SEATTLE – Crews on Thursday began rolling up what’s left of Seattle’s five-year-old cruise ship Terminal 30. The cruise ships are moving up the bay to Terminal 91 near Magnolia Bluff.

To accommodate the big cruise ships, workers need to dredge the area and that means disturbing tons of sediment contaminated by decades of industrial use.

The plan was to simply move the PCB-tainted sediment from one part of the Elliott Bay to another and bury it underwater.

“If we want to restore the Sound, not just keep it bad, we need to take stuff out,” said Fred Felleman of Friends of the Earth.

Puget Sound protection groups protested and got a response from the Port this week that they didn’t expect.

“By taking the PCB mud and by not disposing out in Elliott Bay, by exceeding standards, and taking it and depositing it upland, we’re protecting the environment,” said Bill Bryant of the Port of Seattle.

“This is the new Port of Seattle and they’re trying to make their reputation as the leanest, greenest, most energy efficient port,” said Felleman.

The decision to pull out contaminated silt instead of pushing it around is expected to send ripples through ports down the coast.

“I hope it’s a precedent-setting decision,” said Bryant.

If it is, other ports may now have to give up in-water disposal of contaminants.

It could mean the end of a very common, accepted and popular technique of moving instead of removing a problem.

The reason is got so popular is it’s obviously cheaper. But then the port started to think maybe if you have the opportunity to get rid of contaminated soil once and for all, while you have it in your bucket, maybe you’ll save money in the long run.

Terminal 91 is expected to be dredged and developed in time to host the cruise season next year.

~ by fredfelleman on October 17, 2008.

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