BROOKINGS, Ore. – Thanks to nearly three fourths of a million dollars in state and federal grants, the port of Brookings Harbor is being cleaned-up of silt that’s clogging the boat basin.
Thick-walled black plastic pipe, 14 inches in diameter, drapes into the Brookings boat basin to a dredge waiting to pump tsunami silt out to sea. On the other side of the parking lot, a huge portable pump is in place to push the sludge almost a mile off shore, through more of the pipe which floats on the ocean surface. Every hundred feet, a bright orange marker warns boats to stay clear, while solar power lights are in place to flash warnings at night. Boat owners like John Boye, say it’s worth the wait to see the harbor free of the silt.
“There are places here where the docks are actually resting on the bottom, y’know, and it needs to be cleaned out very significantly. So, no, we’re all glad to see it, that’s for sure,” said Boye.
It may feel like summer on the Southern Oregon coast, but windy weather offshore is making it harder for dredgers to clean up the mess left by the Japanese tsunami exactly 18 months ago on Tuesday. Waves and swells at the disposal site almost a mile off-shore are slowing installation of the rest of the pipeline that will carry the sludge away.
“There are areas that have silted up over the years so much that, for example, this dock here on the far end, um, at low tide, the dock will come up, ’cause it’s sitting on the bottom,” explained Harbor Master Ted Fitzgerald.
When it’s ready to go, there will be a mile of plastic pipe carrying the mud and sludge washed in by last year’s tsunami. Fitzgerald says boats will have to be careful for a month or so, but it’ll be good to get the basin cleaned out. He says this is the first cleaning the boat basin has really had in years.