Astoria Marine Construction Co. will likely close sometime next year as the state Department of Environmental Quality finalizes a proposed $3 million cleanup scheduled to begin next summer.
The Lewis and Clark River shipyard, which repairs and refits much of the region’s fishing fleet, has been negotiating with the state and its insurers on a final plan to clean up historical contamination from when the company built wooden minesweepers for the Navy during World War II and the Korean War.
The proposed cleanup would excavate and remove the most contaminated soil and sediment in the river. Remaining contaminated soil will be capped in place to prevent movement and exposure, while contaminated sediment would be covered with a layer of clean sand. Laura Gleim, a spokeswoman for the state, said the cleanup should take two to three months.
Tim Fastabend, owner of Astoria Marine Construction Co., referred comments to his attorney, Carson Bowler.
Astoria Marine’s “going to go out of business, which is disappointing,” Bowler said. “But … the DEQ followed the cleanup laws, and AMCCO will comply with them.”
The company has provided a $3.8 million escrow account via its insurer to fund the cleanup, with the remainder going to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Gleim said. The company will also pay $100,000 to the state for oversight costs, while the state will wave $40,000 worth of past and future oversight. After the cleanup, the company will be released from further liability.
The Department of Environmental Quality’s orphan program, used when the responsible parties are unable or unwilling to pay, will cover about $500,000 worth of continued maintenance and monitoring after the cleanup.
The cleanup agreement also includes at least $130,000 worth of natural resource damages and a restoration agreed to by project trustees, including tribal governments and natural resource agencies. The restoration will include removing old pilings and piers to improve tidal habitat. At least $75,000 will go to the Columbia River Estuary Study Taskforce for tidal habitat restoration projects around Youngs Bay.
Local leaders had been searching for ways to relocate the company’s specialization in wooden-hulled boats elsewhere, with the industrial docks at North Tongue Point a likely location. Willie Toristoja, co-owner of WCT Marine & Construction Inc. at Tongue Point, said he has already hired two shipwrights from Fastabend and started taking in some of his former customers.
“We’re definitely seeing an increase” in business, he said.
The state is taking comments on the proposed cleanup through October. Submit comments to Project Manager Erin McDonnell at 700 N.E. Multnomah St., Suite 600, Portland, OR., 97232 or firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information, visit tinyurl.com/ycdvsjmu