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NEWPORT OREGON AND BELLINGHAM WASHINGTON CONTINUE TO BATTLE OVER NOAA HOME PORT

The Government Accounting Office has upheld an appeal of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s, ( NOAA), decision to relocate its home port from Seattle to Newport. The decision to appeal the move was made by the Port of Bellingham who claimed that NOAA did not consider the fact that the Newport location was within the 100 year flood plain of the Yaquina River and therefore violated Federal rules for construction of new facilities.

The 20 year lease at stake is for the home port of four NOAA research ships that begins in 2011 and is worth in excess of $40 million dollars. The NOAA home port involves an estimated 78 shoreside employees and up to 178 researchers aboard the vessel. However, the home port location would also support and employ numerous related private industries. The NOAA center had been previously located in Seattle for the past sixty years.

NOAA has indicated that they will work with Government Accounting Office to alleviate their concerns over the Newport location. Don Mann, manager of the Port of Newport, has indicated that work is continuing ahead on the project and that the Port has hired various contractors and engineers to start work on the new Newport facility. Newport’s rent bid of $2.5 million for the NOAA site was substantially less than the Port of Bellingham’s $4 million dollar per year bid.