The Seward Phoenix Log - News of the Eastern Kenai Peninsula since 1966

By Wolfgang Kurtz
LOG Editor 

Vigor Seward shipyard deal signed

Breakwater project moving along in fits and starts


Wolfgang Kurtz | The Seward Phoenix LOG

Adam Beck, president of Vigor Alaska, addressed the community at a Seward City Council meeting on Monday.

Monday the Seward City Council signed off on the transfer of Seward Ship's Drydock leases to Vigor Alaska, a transaction that will give the major player in marine maintenance and construction a base of operations in Seward until at least 2040. The leases, originally drafted and executed in 1995, were rewritten in 2010 to extend the term in hopes of attracting just such a deal. The next step is assigning maintenance contracts currently with Seward Ships to Vigor.

On May 2, with months of preliminaries out of the way, Seward Ship's Drydock signed a asset purchase agreement. Those preliminaries were primarily concerned with addressing possible environmental pollution concerns that have repeatedly arisen despite the lack of any test results showing that natural or industrial waste exceeds federal guidelines or pose a threat to the welfare of the public or wildlife. Nonetheless, a four-year insurance policy will cover remaining liability in the event that such contamination is discovered.

Seward City Manager Jim Hunt continued to downplay the possible complications of a threatened EPA inspection. saying that the federal agency was non-committal concerning such notice laid out in a letter to Seward Ship's Drydock earlier this year. He estimated that the likelihood of an inspection of the transfer pit and drain field actually happening at 30 percent. Both city administration and SSD captain Jim Pruitt have described the likelihood of any significant undiscovered pollution at the site as outlandish.

The asset purchase agreement between Seward Ship's Drydock and Vigor Alaska will be consummated soon after the mandatory 30-day posting period required by the Seward City Charter. According to Assistant City Manager Ron Long, the payment for the insurance policy to protect the City of Seward from liability nearly derailed the sale, but equal division of the premiums was negotiated. At the conclusion of a four-year period, any discovered contamination will be classified as new. Seward Ship's Drydock has been the lessee of substantially that same property since 1988.

The Seward Marine Industrial Center breakwater project continued to make progress toward construction with U.S. Army Corps of Engineers approval of engineering plans the next major hurdle. City Manager Hunt noted that a division of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service was throwing another challenge at the SMIC breakwater project. Hitherto unencountered regulations are apparently concerned with protecting salmon that may navigate the 240-foot opening of the breakwater.

Comments during the Army Corps of Engineers permitting approval indicate that USFWS regulators are fearful that salmon could be trapped and die within the enclosed basin. Assistant City Manager Ron Long offered an example of a solution in the form of an underwater culvert at some point or points along the barrier. City administration appeared confident that the issue was a speed bump of small consequence.


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