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Boatyard practices called into question

Port defends its dismantling

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Steve Barkemeyer

Posted: Wednesday, January 29, 2014 12:43 pm | Updated: 12:50 pm, Wed Jan 29, 2014.

It might not be pretty, but boat owner Steve Hammond and Steve Barkemeyer, manager of the Port of Astoria’s Pier 3 boatyard, said the yard is necessary for the aging vessels of the region.

“In 10 years, we’ve had seven or eight boats taken apart,” said Barkemeyer, whose Pier 3 boatyard includes about 40 work stations.

And last week came the latest demolition, when Hammond had his 97-year-old tuna-fishing boat the Charlotte B torn apart by a small excavator at the boatyard and cleaned up and taken away – all within a couple of days.

While Barkemeyer espouses his love of old boats, he’s unapologetic about the access the Port provides to owners seeking to tear a boat apart. Scrutiny developed around the issue of dismantling vessels when Frank Allen, the principal behind Blue Ocean Environmental, proposed dismantling vessels in a more environmentally friendly manner at North Tongue Point.

“It’s a bunch of double-standard bullshit,” said Allen, noting the years of planning and months of negotiations with the Port and city he’s had to go through. And he still hasn’t been able to dismantle the Cap’n Oscar, a small fishing vessel he hopes will serve as an example of his process.

But the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality has so far signed off on the boatyard’s practices. Dave Kunz, a regional representative for DEQ, said the main focus of his agency is containment – keep the liquids, dusts and other debris from filtering into the environment. And if it happens, clean it up.

“If none of us boatyards are willing to do this, and they stay in the water, they’ll sink, and then they really become an environmental problem,” said Barkemeyer.

Boatyard breaking

Hammond said he loved his old boat, but it simply became more cost-effective to buy a newer steel-hulled version rather than update the wooden Charlotte B. His newer vessel, the 16-year-old Charlotte B, is now moored at the East End Mooring Basin.

Hammond, whose old boat had been at the boatyard for two years, said he took his time, drained the boat and engine more than once and made sure to be ready if an accident happened during demolition.

The hull of his former boat laid on its side Jan. 21, its topside structure disemboweled by a small excavator and spilled out onto a blue tarp and the ground underneath. Unidentified, purplish liquid pooled in places on the bare ground, and foam insulation scattered out throughout the build area.

By Jan. 23, though, the spot was raked dirt, most visible evidence of a boat having been there gone, save for errant wires and other small bits of plastic and the like on the ground.

Barkemeyer said it’s the type of scene the DEQ has seen and signed off on before.


The Port has operated a self-service boatyard since 2004, and Barkemeyer’s quick to point out that it’s not even technically capable of “shipbreaking.” The popularized term describes operations breaking apart vessels of more than 200 gross tons haphazardly along the coastline in places such as Alang, India, and Galveston, Texas.

At the Port, the 88-ton lift hauls boats out of the water for $6.50 a foot. Owners can wash their vessels off in a self-contained electrocoagulation center. It removes, without using chemicals or filters, contaminants such as emulsified oil, total petroleum hydrocarbons, suspended solids and heavy metals that are impossible to remove by filtration or chemical treatment systems.

“Once a boat leaves here, there’s no washing,” said Barkemeyer.

Spaces at the boatyard where the Charlotte B was torn apart run about 30 cents per foot per day. Barkemeyer said the Port owns a couple of vessels that people have paid the fee for a short time before abandoning.

“It has to be economical, or people will just walk away from it,” said Barkemeyer about giving fishers a chance to get rid of their old boats.

Once a boat’s washed near the sea lift and taken to a work area, he requires such precautions as a tarpaulin under the demolition and vacuum attachments on sanding.

But Allen said it’s crazy how someone can get a $1,250 fine or time in jail for littering, but people can haphazardly tear apart their boats with little regard for the environment. He added that the dismantling taking place on Port property is a felony.

Clean Marina, circa 2009

“We’re part of the Clean Marina Program … and we absolutely are not interested in doing anything illegal,” said Barkemeyer of the Oregon Marine Board’s voluntary association of 61 marines statewide that go through extra monitoring to be certified “clean.”

The Port has been in the program since 2009, but it hasn’t been inspected by the program since it was accepted.

Italo Lenta, who took over in October as coordinator of the Clean Marina Program, said his agency doesn’t have the financial resources to inspect facilities very often. He’s in the process of inspecting many the marinas in the program for his first time, adding that he’ll make it out to Astoria in the coming weeks.

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Welcome to the discussion.


  • The Uppertown Love Machine posted at 9:31 pm on Fri, Jan 31, 2014.

    The Uppertown Love Machine Posts: 212

    So, why is it Port of Astoria haul-out should be exempt fro Oregon State Law as cited below?

    So, why is it that you didnt even bother to read the article? The answer is in the article.

  • bvgundy posted at 4:39 pm on Thu, Jan 30, 2014.

    bvgundy Posts: 45

    It is because the definitions explain what a ship is. Vessels hauled at the port are not ships as defined in the law you have posted.

  • Tom Chapman posted at 9:51 am on Thu, Jan 30, 2014.

    Tom Chapman Posts: 7

    Huge difference in terms of safety and chemical reactions involved.

  • PatrickMcGee posted at 9:45 am on Thu, Jan 30, 2014.

    PatrickMcGee Posts: 604

    So, why is it Port of Astoria haul-out should be exempt fro Oregon State Law as cited below?

    2) In the State of Oregon, a person:
    (a) May perform shipbreaking activities only in a dry dock.
    (b) May not perform shipbreaking activities in a manner that allows hazardous materials, fouling communities or fouling organisms that are in or on the ship to enter the waters of this state or the ocean shore.
    (3) Notwithstanding subsection (2) of this section, a person may in the waters of this state:
    (a) Dismantle for removal a ship that has been shipwrecked if the Department of State Lands determines, in consultation with others as the department finds appropriate including, but not limited to, other state agencies, the United States Coast Guard and the shipowner, that it is physically impracticable to move the shipwreck to a dry dock.
    (b) Partially dismantle a ship as may be required in the process of ship repair.
    (4) Subsection (2) of this section does not apply to the shipbreaking of a flat-bottomed barge that is not self-propelled and that operates in the waters of this state.
    (5) This section does not relieve a person from compliance with other state or local laws that apply to shipbreaking, shipwrecks or ship repair including, but not limited to, laws relating to hazardous materials, fouling communities or fouling organisms. [2007 c.150 §1; 2007 c.816 §3]

  • sues posted at 12:07 am on Thu, Jan 30, 2014.

    sues Posts: 866

    Good article. Surprised The DA directly quoted 'BS', given the very restricted selection of words permitted on the comments. But maybe the censor is loosening up!

    Sue S

  • FishareGood posted at 10:49 pm on Wed, Jan 29, 2014.

    FishareGood Posts: 84

    This is just plan nuts, what's the difference between taking an excavator to an old wood boat or a cutting torch to an old steel boat. He's right when one sinks at the dock and it turns into a million dollar salvage operation at taxpayer expense then maybe we can get through the red tape.

  • summers posted at 8:23 pm on Wed, Jan 29, 2014.

    summers Posts: 87

    Say what you want but I stopped reading the article at the first foul word. And yes some of us are offended by others language.

  • Tom Chapman posted at 7:00 pm on Wed, Jan 29, 2014.

    Tom Chapman Posts: 7

    Thanks Steve for making a great effort to get it right!