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Port of Kalama

Port of Kalama commissioners Wednesday approved a letter opposing a new fee charging cargo vessels traveling to or through the Port of Astoria.

The Port of Astoria implemented the fee in March. It charges any trade vessel 250 feet or longer a $300 fee, whether it docks there or continues upriver. Revenue from the fee will fund the operation and maintenance of a wharf that provides an emergency berth to distressed vessels. The port is not required to offer the service.

The Port of Longview already sent a similar letter to the Port of Astoria, and the Port of Vancouver is considering the same, said Mark Wilson, Port of Kalama executive director.

“I’m always hesitant to talk to another port about their choice, but it has an impact on us,” Wilson said. “It’s not the right way to do things, and I’m not sure it’s legal.”

The Columbia River Steamship Operators’ Association said late last month it is prepared to sue the port because it believes the fee conflicts with the commerce clause of the U.S. Constitution.

In other business, the commissioners approved two changes to an agreement with the ports of Longview and Vancouver for channel maintenance on the lower Columbia River. The first addendum sets Kalama’s share of the cost for consultation on the environmental plan for the maintenance to not exceed $114,500. The second sets Kalama’s share of project coordination costs to not exceed $67,100.

The commissioners also approved awarding a bid of about $90,000 to JH Kelly for renovations to building 7418 for tenant Cowlitz Container and Diecutting. The business requested a wall be built to divide the space between it and another company. The port will recover the cost of construction on the lease with Cowlitz Container and Diecutting, said Liz Newman, marketing and communications manager.

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