- Associated Press - Saturday, June 3, 2017

LONGVIEW, Wash. (AP) - State and federal officials have started cleanup and restoration of a site on the Oregon side of the Columbia River that turned into a mooring area for more than two dozen derelict vessels in recent years.

U.S. Coast Guard officials tell The Daily News (https://bit.ly/2qLykRz) that the first part of the project that started Thursday near Goble involves removing hazardous substances that include fuel, asbestos, lead paint and household wastes.

Officials say that will take about two weeks, and then the Oregon Department of Lands will remove any remaining vessels and restore the site.

Officials said Clay Jonak and Roger Ison leased the site in August 2012 to restore a former ferry called the River Queen. They brought in an estimated 27 more vessels.

Oregon terminated the lease, and Jonak and Ison had until May 31 to remove the vessels. Jonak and Ison appealed but later reached a settlement. Following a two-year effort to address pollution concerns, the state took possession of the site on Thursday.

“We’ve been trying to work with the lessees,” said Julie Curtis from the Oregon Department of State Lands. “We’ve been trying to get them in compliance in state pollution laws. It’s been a difficult situation over the past year, so we finally settled with them.”

Jonak said he objects to the state’s conclusion that the vessels should be scrapped as worthless.

“The barges the state wants to cut up and dispose of are worth $20 million,” Jonak told The Daily News. “They deemed them solid waste. I live on it. I have a home on it. How do you figure it’s solid waste?”

During the time of the lease, three of the vessels sank over a 12-month period. The Coast Guard said two of those required emergency cleanups.

The cost of cleaning up the site has yet to be determined.

Coast Guard officials say their cost will be covered by the Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund through the Columbia River Incident Management Division.

The Oregon Department of Lands said it will use money from the Common School Fund.

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Information from: The Daily News, https://www.tdn.com

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