Port of Port Townsend told to post safe-load limits or face fine
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Washington State Department of Labor & Industries has notified the Port of Port Townsend that it must make improvements to the safety of a pier used by New Day Fisheries at the Boat Haven Marina for offloading fish from commercial vessels. -- Photo by Jeff Chew/Peninsula Daily News

By Jeff Chew
Peninsula Daily News

PORT TOWNSEND -- The State Department of Labor & Industries has asked the Port of Port Townsend to post maximum safe load limits on a Boat Haven pier or face a penalty of $320.

The pier is used by New Day Fisheries, a fish purchasing and processing company, to haul fish off commercial vessels.


Load ratings absent

The news came to the port Nov. 9 after a routine L&I safety inspection of the pier in the commercial section on the north end of Boat Haven marina.

Following the inspection, an L&I inspector cited the port for no load ratings on the pier.

The citation and notice of assessment said that the employer is required to post maximum safe load limits per square foot of floors elevated above ground level and pier structures over the water.

Because New Days Fisheries leases the property and pier from the port, it is the port's responsibility to correct the infraction by Nov. 28, the citation said.

Larger problem

But port executives believe L&I's citation is just a symptom of a bigger problem.

The pier, like the Boat Haven's A/B docks and the Boat Haven's 75-ton haulout pier, needs to be upgraded or replaced, they said.

"It needs to be certified to meet L&I standards," port Executive Director Larry Crockett said. "The issue is, it will cost us $1 million."

Port commissioners also are facing the decision to commit an estimated $5.5 million to remodel the A/B docks with new slips, a majority of the marina, and whether to combine an estimated $1.3 million of work to build a new 75-ton boat haulout pier to save money.

If the port has to prohibit use of the pier if fails a future inspection, Crockett and port Deputy Director Jim Pivarnik said that New Day would have to use the haulout dock near the other end of the marina.

Just needs posting

New Days Fisheries Manager Scott Kimmel, whose company leases the land on which it operates from the port, said that, as he understands it, the pier just needs a load rating posted.

Using the 75-ton haulout while the pier was being upgraded would be a problem, he said.

"That would be very inconvenient. It would be impossible for us," Kimmel said.

Besides the distance between the haulout and the fish company location across the marina, a crane would be needed to offload from boats and transport fish and other gear back to the company's processing location.

The company delivers ice to boats using the pier and fishermen use it for loading crab pots and gear.

Forklifts and cranes are used to heavy lift loads on the pier.

"Without the dock safe loads limits, the dock could get overloaded and collapse," the citation said.

Crockett and Pivarnik, who were attending a conference of port executives this week, said they would talk to Kimmel more about the pier and further assess the situation.

Crockett said improvements to the Boat Haven's commercial docks section that includes the pier was at least five years away.

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Port Townsend-Jefferson County Editor Jeff Chew can be reached at 360-385-2335 or at jeff.chew@peninsuladailynews.com.

Last modified: November 18. 2009 12:37AM
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