Tag Archives: pit-to-pier

Looking back on recent news about water issues

The “common cold” is not what it used to be — or maybe I’m not what I used to be. Does anybody think our viruses today are more hostile?

In any case, a bout with some kind of respiratory bug has knocked me back about five days. I would call it the flu, except that I didn’t have much of a fever.

So now I find myself with a backlog of news stories that I had planned to discuss with you all. Since time doesn’t stop, there will be more stories tomorrow and the day after that.

So I’ll mention some of the interesting stories from the past week and offer you a chance to comment on any of these things. If something provokes your interest or concern, I’ll be happy to moderate or join the conversation.

Fuel spill at PSNS (Thursday)

Last Thursday, 500 gallons of jet fuel spilled from the USS Abraham Lincoln. Fortunately, the ship had been preboomed, so the spill was contained and did not spread out across the harbor.

I covered the first news story on this spill, and I still have some questions, but I haven’t been back to work long enough to get them answered. For example, I have always been told that you shouldn’t preboom highly volatile liquids, such as gasoline and kerosene, for fear they could catch fire. Has something changed about this idea? (I know one boom was already in place, which is now a standard Navy precaution. But they added another.)

Salmon migration (Sunday)

Sunday’s Kitsap Sun featured my annual story encouraging people to go out and watch chum salmon migrating upstream. As usual, the package included a map of local streams (interactive map for online viewers) and tips for watching the fish without disturbing them.

Wherever you live, you may be interested to know how the runs are shaping up, which I covered in a general way. Chum are doing quite well, but not like the records of the recent past. Pinks were amazing. Coho are coming in large, but their abundance varies by location.

Ueland gravel operation (Monday)

Reporter Derek Sheppard filled in well for me on a story I have been following for a couple of years. I’m talking about the public hearing to decide whether a gravel mine, rock quarry and possible concrete batch plant should be built west of Kitsap Lake. There are a lot of issues involved, including traffic on Northlake Way and water quality and quantity going into Chico Creek. The hearing was continued to Dec. 10, so there will be more discussion.

Gravel zoning in Jefferson County (Tuesday)

The Washington State Court of Appeals agreed that the Jefferson County commissioners acted properly in zoning 690 acres in East Jefferson as a “mineral resources land overlay.” Here’s a question: I had understood that the zoning was a prerequisite to the proposed pit-to-pier project, whether or not the zoning stood by itself. But the appeals court ruling states, “(the) future project is not dependent on the proposed action.” If someone would clarify for me, that would be great.

Brown pelican removed from endangered list (today)

I’m not sure how many people check the “Water, Water Everywhere” list at the top of this blog for stories, research and government actions, but I link to a lot of stuff there that I don’t have time to address in detail. Such was the case today with the nationwide de-listing of the brown pelican. Go to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service news release as well as an L.A. Times story.

Pit-to-pier project receives a financial infusion

A new Canadian partner in the proposed pit-to-pier project on Hood Canal will bring experience and needed money to the project, according to Alex Hill, president of the company that will remain in charge.

The proposal continues through the permitting process in Jefferson County, where an environmental impact statement is being drafted for the project.

Athabasca Minerals, Inc., will put up $3 million and gain a 25 percent interest in Thorndyke Resource, which was created by the Fred Hill family to own and operate the pit-to-pier project. See the story we posted on the Kitsap Sun’s Web site this morning.

Completion of the partnership between Thorndyke Resource and Athabasca is subject to regulatory approval in Canada, approval by Athabasca’s board of directors, verification of the gravel resource and other conditions.

To read more, check out the news release from Athabasca, a company traded on the Toronto Stock Exchange, and the one released by officials associated with Fred Hill Materials (PDF 44 kb).

What’s a pit-to-pier project without the pit?

Fred Hill Materials has sold its gravel-mining operation known as the Shine Pit, yet the company plans to move full speed ahead on the controversial pit-to-pier project. See today’s story in the Kitsap Sun.

I’ve been hearing rumors for well over a year that the company was struggling financially, yet I was never able to confirm anything.

With this sale, the company acknowledges that it has been having financial troubles, at least with respect to the construction downturn in the current economy.

Opponents may hope that this new development will mean the end of the pit-to-pier proposal, which includes a four-mile conveyor belt and a 1,000-foot-long pier designed to move gravel by barge and ship throughout the Puget Sound region and along the West Coast. Environmental groups argue that the project could injure Hood Canal, threaten smooth operations at the Hood Canal bridge and interfere with Navy operations.

Company officials insist that the benefits of the project far outweigh the potential problems. They say the sale of the Shine Pit will mean an infusion of money to continue environmental studies and permitting activities on the pit-to-pier project.

It appears the company is staking a good deal of its future on this major project, despite a well-organized opposition.

Today’s story about the sale of the gravel pit was posted on the Sun’s Web site yesterday afternoon. I expected to see a bunch of comments by now, but there has been only one. The writer, didisaythat, makes an interesting point:

I can’t believe that no one’s commented on this story yet. Poor Fred has got to be rolling in his grave about now. How can they have a pit-to-pier project anymore when they just sold their pit ????? Lets see how long they can keep the concrete end up and running before they sell that too…. This story just doesn’t add up.

For permitting details, see Jefferson County’s project site.
For opposing arguments, see Hood Canal Coalition.