Marshlands considered for new Californian port

Environmental Issues - August 16, 2006

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The Contra Costa Times newspaper says a surge in shipping trade has officials in Richmond in Californa eyeing an undeveloped stretch of marshlands for a possible container terminal.

The newspaper said Richmond city officials are planning a feasibility study. The possible site is north of the Chevron refinery on about 500 acres of marshland. If approved, the port, which would require a major dredging operation, would cost an estimated US$5 billion in private and public investment.

"While there are many environmental challenges, city officials say the marshlands around the mouth of Wildcat Creek, on the northern shoreline, are an almost ideal location for a port because of available land, two existing railways and easy access to major freeways," said the newspaper. "This is in the very early stages and there is no specific site planned yet," said City Manager Bill Lindsay.

The paper noted that one of the biggest potential obstacles is the need to dredge what it called "massive amount" of naterial from the seabed, material which could be contaminated by decades of refinery operations.

The city is reportedly negotiating with Moffat and Nichol Engineers, a Long Beach based company that designs ports, to conduct the study. Moffat and Nichol will examine site characteristics, environmental obstacles and potential financial benefits. The council is to consider approving the study in September.

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