Boon, Bust for Dredging Plans

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By Roger Bloom | NB Indy


The city landed one fish with the announcement that the Port of Long Beach would take contaminated sediment from a proposed Rhine Channel dredging project, but city officials were left scrambling by the one that got away.

In agreeing to accept 150,000 cubic yards of Rhine Channel material to use as fill in an expansion project, the port also declined to accept 700,000 cubic yards of sediment from a proposed dredging of the entire Newport Harbor to return it to design depth.

While the door is still open a crack in Long Beach, the decision apparently leaves city officials and the Army Corps of Engineers with only much more expensive options for the disposal of the Harbor material.

“We’ve got two out of three,” said Councilmember Leslie Daigle, referring to the Back Bay dredging project that is nearing completion, the Rhine Channel project that can now begin in the spring, and the Harbor project that is still up in the air.

“This intensifies pressure to come up with a disposal solution,” she said. “The final story of the lower bay project is not yet written. Stay tuned.”

City Manager Dave Kiff said that alternative disposal methods, involving trucking the material to faraway sites that accept contaminated material, or treating it before shipping it to nearer sites that require clean fill, “are a lot more costly.”

Another port project is coming in about 2014, he said, and that could be a possibility, or more capacity may open up in the current project that would give the city a second chance there.

The Rhine Channel sediment is contaminated with heavy metals and other chemicals as a result of boat building, repair and painting operations there in past decades.

In the larger Newport Harbor, about 1/3 of the estimated 2 million cubic yards that would be removed in a dredging project is contaminated. The clean material from the Harbor could be taken by barge to the same offshore site being used for the Back Bay project.

The Rhine Channel project is being funded by $4 million from the city’s general fund. The Harbor project is being managed by the Corps of Engineers and is dependent on federal funding.

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