Port of Olympia announced this week that the maintenance dredge of the marine terminal vessel berths and Swantown Boatworks haulout area has begun.
Over the next month or so, the dredging activities will be visible from various locations along the downtown waterfront.
It has been more than 30 years since the Budd Inlet areas were dredged. Over time, silt builds up and decreases water depths, causing safety issues for workers and limiting the number of ships that the Port can safely berth. Maintenance dredging is a common project for marine terminals and some terminals must dredge annually to maintain needed water depths.
Achieving the authorized depths at the berths brings the opportunity for increased jobs, business revenue and tax revenue to City of Olympia, Thurston County and the State of Washington. The dredge will also remove contaminated sediments from Budd Inlet.
Alexandra Smith, Director of the Port’s Environmental Programs, is overseeing the project which Orion Marine of Tacoma is conducting under a contract with the Port. Orion expects to complete the project in January or early February 2014.
“The increased water depths will help ensure safe services to the marine terminal’s international customers and allow Swantown Boatworks to fully serve its local and regional customers,” said Smith. “The maintenance dredge also contributes to the removal of contaminated sediments from Budd Inlet.”
The Port is dredging the 20-foot area adjacent to the marine terminal pier to its authorized depth of -42 feet. The Port is also dredging any areas waterward of the 20-foot strip that are higher than -38 feet.
For the marine terminal, the current shallow depths adjacent to the pier mean the ships cannot dock directly at the pier. To move cargo, a device attached to the dock called a “camel” holds the vessel five feet away from the pier. The cargo loading and unloading must take place across the five-foot span, which carries safety risks. The dredge project will remove these safety risks and will enable fully loaded ships to utilize all the berths simultaneously. Currently, the Port cannot accommodate even two fully loaded vessels at berth.
At low tide, the Boatworks has only eight inches of water depth and therefore must close its haulout facility to customers. The dredge will provide safe depths for the haulout facility and allow it to operate even at low tides.
The Port anticipates dredging a maximum of 40,000 cubic yards of sediments, with 6,000 cubic yards from the Swantown Boatworks area and the remainder from berths one, two and three. While 40,000 cubic yards are the maximum, the Port expects to dredge less.
The dredged material will be transported by truck to an upland disposal facility in Castle Rock, Wash. which is authorized to accept the dredged materials. The Washington State Dept. of Ecology has approved the disposal site and is overseeing the Port’s implementation of a detailed plan for monitoring water quality during the dredging activity.
“The Port is following the water quality monitoring plan to make sure the dredging is done carefully and does not stir up sediments that could possibly be contaminated,” said Smith. “Following the removal of the material, a six to nine inch layer of clean sand will cover the exposed berth areas as a safety barrier between the exposed areas and the surface,” Smith concluded.
Press Release, November 29, 2013