Coos Bay might see coal exports, but not from the general-purpose cargo terminal the port would like to build, Oregon International Port of Coos Bay CEO Jeff Bishop told the Port's commissioners Thursday night.
Coal exports would bring too many ships for the cargo terminal to handle, he said. 'If any coal terminal is developed in Coos Bay, it would have to be a stand-alone terminal."
In March, after environmental scrutiny stalled a plan to ship coal out of Longview, Wash., speculation began on whether Coos Bay might see a similar proposal. In his monthly report to the Port's commissioners, Bishop said the Port had received a public records request on that subject from the Sierra Club.
'We are in discussions with coal developers and have entered into nondisclosure agreements with those companies," Bishop said. 'We don't want anyone to be surprised."
Bishop said the arrival of one coal train per day would create 100 ship calls per year.
For comparison, when shipping in Coos Bay was at its peak in 1983, the port saw slightly fewer than 400 ships per year.
Bishop said port staff was researching the issue and would make a recommendation to the commissioners on any opportunity that might arise.
Marine reserve proposal
David Koch, the Port's chief operating officer, reported on the status of efforts to make a recommendation about a marine reserve or marine protected area in the Cape Arago area. After 18 months of discussion, the Port's Marine Reserves Recommendation Committee, composed of stakeholders, decided in March to endorse a proposal creating no new marine reserves or marine protected areas in the area. The port asked the group to prepare majority and minority reports, but those haven't been vetted or approved by the committee members.
Meanwhile, the Oregon Legislature considered HB 2009, which would have required the committee to make its recommendation directly to the state's Ocean Policy Advisory Committee. But that bill failed.
Now, Koch said, port staff will meet with the majority and minority report authors and other committee members, offering suggestions on revisions that may be necessary to achieve consensus. When those reports are in hand, staffers will make their own report and submit all three to the commissioners. Koch said that the staff might conduct some more study of the issues. He said the whole process might take six to nine months.
Meanwhile, Gov. John Kitzhaber plans to issue an executive order regarding several marine reserves along the coast, but Cape Arago isn't one of them.
Rail work continues
The port awarded a contract for railroad ties to Conrad Forest Products of North Bend. The port will pay $3.3 million for 90,000 Douglas fir railroad ties treated with ACZA (Chemonite). Conrad won the contract over two out-of-area competitors. The ties will be delivered in December, to be used in long-term track rehabilitation by a contractor yet to be selected.
Koch updated the commissioners on the progress of repair work. Some of the work is being done under a declaration of economic emergency, without competitive bidding, to enable the line to open in October to meet the needs of Roseburg Forest Products and other shippers. On Thursday night, the commissioners renewed the emergency declaration.
LRL Construction will be working on Phase 3 of tunnel repairs until September. Although that contract was awarded under the emergency declaration without a bidding process, the port is paying the same rate LRL charged as the winning bidder on Phases 1 and 2.
But most of the work needed to get the railroad running before Oct. 1 is being done on a competitive basis. That includes rail geometry testing, signal repairs and updates, and rehabilitation of rail structures, bridges, and crossings.
Koch said that part of the line between Danebo and Veneta may be able to open before Oct. 1. By the end of the year, it hopes to have the line open as far as Coquille.
The port is still preparing bid packages for long-term rehabilitation work.
Thursday night, the commissioners approved an interim agreement with ARG Trans, the company that will take over operation of the rail line once rehabilitation is complete.
• Port staff and a community volunteer have undergone Operation Lifesaver training and are qualified to train people of all ages in railroad safety. Training is needed because the area has been without railroad traffic for four years. Elise Hamner, the Port's communications manager, said staff plan to give extra attention to training teens, young adults, emergency responders and ATV riders. Any group can schedule a safety presentation by calling Hamner at 541-267-7678.
• The Port's ice dock in Charleston is making more money than budgeted. It has sold $36,000 a month in ice for the past two months.
• Coos Bay City Manager Rodger Craddock reported on efforts to improve parking at the Eastside boat ramp, owned by the Port and developed and maintained by the city. The city plans to create 22 new vehicle/trailer spots by temporarily graveling an area next to the existing lot and then seeking funds from the state marine board or the lottery to pave it. A public meeting July 28 at Millicoma School will let neighbors comment on the plan.
• Jody McCaffree, chairman of the Coos New Energy Workgroup, an advisory committee to the Coos County commissioners, described C-NEW's efforts to create jobs through green energy projects. She suggested the port could bring in a wind energy consultant to help the city of Coos Bay develop a policy on wind turbines so that the current moratorium could be lifted. She also asked about a recent trip by Bishop and commissioner Caddy McKeown to Germany and Portugal, where they visited facilities related to potential port projects.
Bishop said the trip was covered by a nondisclosure agreement with a client of the port, but offered McCaffree an opportunity to execute a nondisclosure agreement of her own so that she could learn the details of the project.
'I'll have to think about that," McCaffree said after the meeting.
• The Port selected Pauly Rogers & Co., a Salem firm, as its auditor.
Reporter Gail Elber can be reached at 541-269-1222, ext. 234, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.