PORT ANGELES — A $1.6 million dredging project began Wednesday at the Port of Port Angeles’ Terminal 3 primary cargo dock.
Port Director of Engineering Chris Hartman said the six-week underwater excavation, delayed for two months, will make it easier for captains to sidle their ships up to the pier, which, with dolphins, stretches 445 feet.
Hartman said work will include a crane operator lowering cables to the sea floor while guiding a 7-cubic-yard clamshell bucket large enough to fill two-thirds of a standard dump truck.
Two cranes will be used for the project.
The sediment will be deposited on a barge, where it will be dewatered with the aid of wall scuppers, before it’s ladled again onto dump trucks.
Drivers will deposit the silt on port property on the east end of the former KPly plywood mill site on Marine Drive just west of downtown Port Angeles.
Up to 15,000 yards of material will be dropped on about 4 acres of the mostly vacant 18-acre parcel.
An interior orange fence recently was installed to prevent silt-laden runoff from migrating off the property, which will be sectioned off for analyzing the sediment.
“We have a bunch of different areas where we will do stockpiling and analytic testing to ensure it’s clean,” Hartman said.
Silt that meets state Department of Ecology pollution standards will remain and be used as fill material at the site, formerly called the Marine Trades Industrial Park.
To attract tenants, port commissioners recently renamed it the Port Angeles Marine Trades Center.
Material that exceeds Ecology standards will be trucked to the Roosevelt Regional Landfill at the Washington-Oregon border south of Yakima.
The sediment contains varying levels of polychlorinated biphenyls, pesticides, dioxins, metals, tributyltin, aromatic hydrocarbons and dioxins/furans that exceed the standards of the Dredged Material Management Program, administered by state and federal agencies.
Those levels make some of that sediment unsuitable for open-water disposal, according to the port’s Seattle-based environmental consulting firm, Floyd-Snider.
The contract includes the expectation that 3,000 cubic yards, or 5,000 tons, will need to be trucked to Roosevelt.
“We’re hoping to use as much as possible on the site so we don’t have costs for trucking and disposal,” Hartman said.
The dock area will be dug to 45 feet below mean low tide. In some places, up to 7 feet of sediment will be dug up to that depth, allowing vessels to more easily maneuver before unloading, including log ships of up to about 620 feet bound for China.
The area was last dredged to 45 feet in 1978.
Vessel captains have expressed concerns about hitting bottom, Hartman said in an earlier interview.
Once dredging is completed again, hopes are “we do not have to do this again for another 40 years,” Hartman said Wednesday.
The project, originally scheduled for July 20-Sept. 4, was rescheduled to August, but the contractor, Legacy Contracting of Stayton, Ore., encountered delays, including problems securing the barge, Hartman said.
“The timing is not super critical other than it will be more difficult on the contractor as the weather starts to turn to rain,” he said.
“That will cause a lot more cleanup for the contractor.”
Hartman said the delay will not increase the cost to the port.
“The port is protected from that,” he said.
“We were not the cause of the delays.”
Design, sediment-core testing and permitting costs of $300,000 were not included in the contract.
Other costs that were higher than anticipated include an underestimated quantity of sediment to be removed, which increased from 13,000 cubic yards to 15,000 cubic yards, and additional soil testing that had to be conducted.
Costs over $1 million will be drawn from port reserves.
Senior Staff Writer Paul Gottlieb can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 55650, or at [email protected].