(PORTLAND, Ore.) – The U.S. Coast Guard and other agencies have approved a plan to remove two abandoned vessels from the Columbia River in Portland.
The 125-foot cutter Alert and the 100-foot Sakarissa are currently sunk off Hayden Island. They are adjacent to the Interstate 5 bridge and a mile upriver from the Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) railroad bridge.
Due to hull deterioration and oil saturation of the vessels’ interiors, they have been discharging a sheen into the waterway. They also pose a collision hazard for vessels operating outside the navigation channel.
“Even though the Coast Guard oversaw the removal of thousands of gallons of diesel and oily water from these vessels in 2020, they still pose a risk,” said Lt. Lisa Siebert, the Incident Management Division supervisor at Coast Guard Sector Columbia River, Detachment Portland. “We have worked closely with our state and local partners to develop an integrated plan to remove these vessels and protect the public and the environment.”
This project will be funded in two phases. During the first phase, the Coast Guard plans to use the Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund (OSLTF) to raise the vessels and transport them to a facility in order to safely pump any remaining oil waste product from the vessels. During the second phase, the Oregon Department of State Lands, with funding support from Metro, is scheduled to assume custody of the vessels for final disposal.
The Coast Guard was granted authorization to access the OSLTF for $1 million for its phase of the project. There is currently a ceiling amount of $500,000 for each vessel. This amount is determined for the response based on anticipated obligations. Since this is just an estimate, this ceiling is subject to change during the response.
The Coast Guard plans to begin operations in early September, starting with dive assessments to determine the safest way to raise and transport the two vessels. The Coast Guard plans to conduct operations to raise the vessels throughout the month of September.
“These plans are preliminary and we will continuously assess our plan and make adjustments if needed,” Siebert said. “Throughout this response, the safety of the public and responders will remain our top priority.”
During project activities, the immediate vicinity of the area will be closed to public access.
“I’m incredibly happy our partnerships and hard work resulted in a much-needed plan to remove these vessels,” Siebert said. “This project is truly a team effort and we can’t do it alone.”
Involved in developing the plan were the Coast Guard, Oregon Department of State Lands, Metro, Oregon Department of Environmental Quality, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
For the most up-to-date information about this project, follow the Coast Guard on Twitter at @USCGPacificNW.
– U.S. Coast Guard