ILWACO — Construction is underway on a nearly 6,000-square-foot vessel deconstruction facility in Ilwaco slated for completion this fall.
The facility will be located at 165 Howerton Ave., the current location of a boat-storage yard.
A pre-engineered metal building and associated land will use about one acre of the 3.5-acre boatyard. It will perform vessel deconstruction activities and maintenance while providing sufficient space to receive worn out boats from around the region and store equipment. An estimated 15 jobs will be created in Ilwaco for the facility. West Coast Vessel Recycling will be responsible for boat deconstruction.
Derelict vessels threaten environment
According to the Washington State Department of Natural Resources, there are about 150 vessels in the state that are candidates for recycling, and the Ilwaco facility could serve as a beacon for boats approaching their final call to port. Some of the derelict vessels lining the Port of Ilwaco’s storage yard could be among the first processed by the new operation, depending on available funds and their respective environmental impact.
The facility will provide an outlet for derelict vessels in Pacific County that are unable to be to be deconstructed at locations in Port Angles and Portland.
“There isn’t one for a long way,” said Troy Wood, derelict vessels removal program manager for the DNR.
Derelict vessels often contain large quantities of oil, lead, asbestos or other toxic substances that could pose a threat to animals and the environment. If leaked or leached, these can injure or kill marine mammals, waterfowl and other aquatic life; and contaminate aquatic lands, nearby shorelines and water.
“There’s a lot on a vessel to prevent life from attaching. They’ve found those contaminants in orcas and salmon, which could be attributed to derelict vessels. We wish we could remove them all,” Wood said.
Getting ahead of the problem
Since the program was instituted in 2002, more than 580 abandoned or neglected vessels have been removed from Washington waterways, according to the DNR. The deconstruction facility could help deter others from letting vessels fall into disrepair.
“The deconstruction facility isn’t just for derelict vessels,” Port Manager Guy Glenn Jr. said. “My goal is to have it for people to destroy their boats responsibly before they become derelict. It will create opportunities for us as a port.”
The new facility is part of a $3.5 million package of DNR-sponsored projects announced by Commissioner of Public Lands Hilary Franz last spring. The investment includes $600,000 for building the enclosed deconstruction facility, $250,000 to replace the port’s stormwater system and $100,000 for paving and re-grading work that will help protect water quality. The project is part of Franz’s “Rural Communities Partnership Initiative,” an effort to help leaders in rural areas with economic development.