PORT ANGELES — Ship captains can be less fearful about grounding their vessels in Port Angeles Harbor.
A $1.6 million dredging project has been completed at the Port of Port Angeles Terminal 3 pier.
Until now, log ships that sidled up to the 455-foot pier-and-dolphin dock had logs placed between hull and dock to avoid touching the bottom, where sediment had built up near the dock, port Director of Engineering Chris Hartman said Tuesday.
Under a dredging contract with Legacy Contracting of Stayton, Ore., 11,300 cubic yards of obstructive sediment were dug up.
Of that amount, 2,300 cubic yards were too polluted — mostly with copper — to use as fill along the shoreline and were trucked to the Roosevelt Regional Landfill in central Washington.
What remains is 9,000-cubic-yard plastic-covered hillock of sediment off Marine Drive with only traces of pollution and considered safe to be used as fill to bring the port’s shoreline Marine Trades Center site up to grade by 2 to 3 feet, Hartman said.
“Assuming that environmental regulations continue to get stricter over the years, I would assume the next time we are dredging, all material will have to go for disposal,” he told port commissioners May 25.
The sediment was tested under state Department of Ecology standards for dioxins, furans, polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCBs), petroleum hydrocarbons, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, semi-volatile organic compounds and eight different metals.
What drivers trucked off site was likely safe enough to deposit upland but unsafe so close to the harbor given its threat of leaching back into the water, Hartman said Tuesday.
The total cost of the project came to about $2.1 million over two budget years when sediment sampling and permitting are included.
The $1.6 million for dredging that was accepted as complete last week by the commissioners was budgeted at $1 million.
Hartman has said the original budget was solely for construction and based on the assumption no material would have to be exported from the site.
Trucking it from a remote location like Port Angeles “was a significant cost driver,” he said Tuesday.
Actual costs for construction, dredging and stockpiling exceeded engineering estimates, and more than anticipated had to be spent on sediment testing.
The amount of sediment that had to be removed also increased from 13,000 to 15,000 cubic yards.
Design, sediment-core testing and $300,000 in permitting costs were not included in the contract.
“This is the first dredging project any port staff have done locally,” he said.
“We’re hoping we do not have to do another dredging project for a long time. If we do, we’ll go in with eyes wide open, understanding the complexity of the project.
“Every project has a learning curve, and this one is not anything anyone here has done before.”
It’s been since 1978 that pier-area sediment was dredged.
Water depth that had shrunk to 37 feet below mean tide is now 45 feet, easing the concerns of log ship captains who had 2 to 5 feet of wiggle room.
“The captains would express that concern, that they would run aground,” Hartman said.
The fears were heightened during late spring and early summer low tides, when log ships that can reach more than 600 feet long would arrive.
Logs would be placed between the pier fenders and ships to give them a 3- to 4-foot cushion.
Hartman said log ships take their cargo, mostly to China, from private land from throughout the North Olympic Peninsula from companies such as Rayonier. Unprocessed logs from public timberland cannot be exported.
The dredging project will keep the port’s export business viable, he added.
“If you don’t keep your berth, if you don’t keep your facilities, operating properly, including the bottoms, you won’t continue to be a place where logs are exported,” Hartman said.
The tax district’s Terminal 3 log revenue was $1.3 million in 2019 and $1.1 million in 2020 due to factors including Chinese tariffs and changes in the global market supply.
“I won’t say this will make us more money, but it allows larger vessels to come in to export logs,” Hartman said.
In doing so, vessel captains will breathe a little easier.
“They don’t have to schedule around the tides and add another headache to what they have to deal with,” Hartman said.
Senior Staff Writer Paul Gottlieb can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 55650, or at [email protected].